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Sabicas/ Mario Escuder - The Fantastic Guitars of Sabicas & Escudero [él Records/ Cherry Red - 2011]

“The Fantastic Guitars of Sabicas & Escudero” brings together two collaborative albums by two of the most respected, influential  and virtuosos flamenco guitarist of all time- Sabicas (Agustín Castellón Campos) & Mario Escuder. The disc offers up twenty tracks of intricate, lush, detailed & seemingly effortless flamenco playing.

The two albums on offer here are: “The Fantastic Guitars of Sabicas & Escudero” from 1959 & “Sabicas Y Escudero” ( Flamenco Styles For Two Guitars) from 1960. Both albums original featured 10 tracks each so it’s a even split with track here.  The albums nicely flow and follow on from each other with possible the second album been slightly richer & a little more effortless in it’s feeling. 

If you set down on any one of the twenty tracks on offer here, you’ll be taken by the complex, melodic, strutting yet seemingly graceful & natural playing of this most detailed & often shifting music. Both Sabicas & Escuder are credited with introducing the flamenco style to the rest of the world, and it easy to hear why as the playing here is  flamenco in it’s most perfect, timeless yet approachable form. The tracks here last between just over the minute mark to just under the four & half minute mark- musically themes are introduced & executed with a craftsmen’s perfection before the pair moving onto another track, with nothing really ever outstaying it’s welcome or becoming to flashy or showy for it’s own good.

As one would imagine with the flamenco form most of the tracks here are relatively fast ‘n’ shifting in their form, through there are often moments of slower melody  & sudden fiery yet romantic dips in pace. When one first plays this album it may seem all a little inter-changeable, but give it a few plays & you'll start to hear the rich detail & mood in every track here.

Packaging wise the booklet features on it’s back & front covers reproductions of each of the original album covers, and inside the 12 page booklet there are
Pictures of both Sabicas & Escuder performing live, as well as four page write-up about the pair & the flamenco form.

All told this is a worthy & well put together reissue. And of course it's  a great introduction to the flamenco form as played by two of the masters of the form.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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