Some songs orchestrate moments, spontaneously. I was driving home from an especially tough day at work, listening to this CD. The necessities of navigation had driven the music to the background. As I pulled alongside Elliot Bay a half moon shone on Puget Sound, GUITARRAS FROM HEAVEN came on. . The loneliness and beauty of my late night drive was sublimely highlighted by the music, suddenly in the foreground. I slowed to savor this rare occurrence. My tough day melted away. Oscar Lopez makes music to orchestrate a drive home, a weekend, or a moment by. Have time to clear your mind when his CD is on, look at or imagine something or someone beautiful to you. Later, when you hear the tune again, that image will come back.
Dancing on the Moon Contigo, nominated for a 1995 JUNO Award for "Best Global Recording", is Mr. Lopez' third solo release. Dubbed "Latin fusion" by Alison Mayes of the Calgary Herald, the question is Latin fused with what? At times reminiscent of Ottmar Lieberts Nuevo Flamenco but with a core of genuine ethnic roots sometimes missing in Lieberts works. "Latin fusion" doesn't do this one justice.
Here in Seattle we get several Andean street bands playing at our festivals on traditional pan flutes and drums. The opening cut, ROOTS, seems to be directly derived from this tradition. I'm no Ethnomusicologist but these melodies sound Chilean to me. Dorothy Bishop adds a wonderful cello track to this one and several others.
Not being a singer, when a tune causes me to sing it must be good. When that tune is an instrumental it must be great! NO BARRICADE is just such a tune. There actually is some vocalizing on this cut and I can understand why. Its irresistible. The melodic line is so catchy and the rhythm so infectious that you can't help yourself. But enough gushing. This one comes close to qualifying as a Latin/jazz fusion in my book.
However, the use of the term Latin as a descriptor in regards to Mr. Lopez' music i s unfair. He spans the spectrum, sliding easily from Chilean, to Spanish on BOLERO AMOR, to a quasi Brazilian feel on NO BARRICADE, even to a distinctly Mexican almost Tex/mex feel on the waltz CRYING FOR CARMEN. One of the first albums I ever owned was Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass: South of the Border. CRYING FOR CARMEN reminds me of some of Herb Alperts best ballads sans horns.
NOBODY'S PERFECT reeks of Chet Atkins. Fortunately I love Chet Atkins. SIMPLE MOMENTS is really a classical piece hiding out on a "Latin" album. This album is eclectic, splendidly so, but"Latin fusion"? I don't think so.