Originally released 2003, now worldwide
Flamenco is not at first thought of as a vehicle for the piano. We think of the traditional guitar or Cante jondo (deep song) plus those complex hand claps or dance steps, the vibrant intensity that seems to conjure up the heat and feel of Andalucia. In part this is valid. Flamenco in situ is a portable medium so the guitar rules. It is still possible to find folks in bars sitting around a guitar in a social gathering, taking turns singing in that unique guttural way; and in the countryside of Andalucia to find small peñas where Flamenco is more a part of life than a thing to sit down and listen to. In a world that musically is shrinking (and becoming ever more anodyne?), it's heartening to hear Spanish radio still being Spanish. Sure there's Spanopop,but Sevillanas are also regularly heard and Flamenco is as much a part of life as the Ferias and wondering where the next rain will come from.
Diego Amador is (apparently) one of a 'new wave' of flamenco pianists! As the younger brother of well respected guitarists Raimundo and Raphael, he has flamenco in his genes. But just as his brothers set off on a nuevo route, so has he. They formed Pata Negra in the Nuevo Flamenco wave 15 years back, adding different ingredients to traditional flamenco like electric guitar, bass and Latin influences. Flamenco doesn't sit still though it keeps its traditional heart. See Son de la Frontera's 2 CDs where they take Diego del Gastors music and reshaped it for the 21st century.
Piano Jondo is a great CD - dramatic, dynamic, a mix of flamenco styles and jazz if we have to itemize the ingredients. If you're familiar with 'true' flamenco (however you perceive it), you'll find plenty here to absorb you. If you have already invested in the Tomatito and Michel Camilo Spain and Spain again CDs [Verve/Lola 561 545-2 and 9876136], you'll be well pleased to have more of this vein (and Amador does play guitar too and played bass on Tomatito's Aguadulce CD). Hey, he even plays the insides of his piano... these guys can't help but want to feel the strings on their fingers!
The sound is good too (well, this is a hifi aficionados site) - dynamic piano sound and those familiar hand claps. I think that somehow people will like this in preference to some more way-out jazz piano (not that it doesn't get fast and furious at times) because Flamenco is a form that does have form, following as it does the various different rhythmic patterns (bulerias, tarantas, seguiriya, etc) to anchor the player yet let him fly within the forms. And there is one track written by Jaco Pastorius ("Continuum") with some nice piano/double bass/guitar interplay to gently close this intriguing CD.