Lara & Reyes - World Jazz
Lara & Reyes - Navidad

World Jazz

Lara & Reyes

HOMCD 49636

Navidad

Lara & Reyes

HOMCD 49488

Higher Octave Music
23852 Pacific Coast Highway, Suite 2C
Malibu, CA 90265

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
By David Schultz
(schultz@alum.mit.edu)

Bringing a world of music of international music together, Sergio Lara and Joe Reyes, deliver two fine albums of acoustic guitar mastery in 2000, their fifth and sixth albums on Higher Octave Music. World Jazz is an exploration of different types of acoustic instrumental jazz from around the world, but without abandoning their basic Latin-Jazz patina.

One thing that stands out above all others is the emphasis on the acoustic guitar. Leona opens the album with an upbeat Latin number that gets the listener into the spirit of the album. Nueva Mundo is what might be termed easy-listening jazz with a terrific piano solo by Mark Rubinstein. Richard Garcia's piccolo punctuates Sandia Fresca's crescendo. Danielle's Waltz features only guitars and acoustic bass. Amor De Lejos is a poppy tune driven by the underlying percussion track laid down by Arturo Garza and Oliver Rajamani. 10 to 6 and the album closer "La Barranca" are other fine upbeat songs. The subcontinental strains of instrumentation pervade Neila," featuring Reyes on oud and tanpura, and Rajamani on tabla, dumbek and sarod and also providing vocal flourishes.

I wish more was written in the liner notes about what inspired the different songs on World Jazz, allowing those less schooled in world music an opportunity to learn more about the influences on this album. Nevertheless, the album is masterfully written, performed, and produced. The mixing rightfully displays the acoustic guitar front and center above the other instrumentation. For those interested in world music and acoustic guitar, I would highly recommend this album.

Lara and Reyes' Christmas album Navidad is a perfect album for that fireplace-lit romantic night. Featuring both secular and religious songs. The album opens with a flamenco-inspired version of Winter Wonderland that moves along at a pretty good clip. The end of the song has bits of other songs on it: "Jingle Bells" and A Few of My Favorite Things are instantly recognizable. A flamenco-inspired version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is a unique touch. If you think you've heard enough versions of Silent Night to last a lifetime, I recommend the fresh version played by Lara on mandolin.

About half the songs on Navidad are upbeat versions, whereas half are slower arrangements. The big difference between World Jazz and Navidad is the level of instrumentation. On Navidad, only the two guitars (with the occasional mandolin) appear, so the sparser instrumentation gives it a more intimate feel. It also includes a version of Jose Feliciano's Feliz Navidad.

The sound on both albums is exceptionally crisp and clean, allowing the stringed instruments to shine through in the mix. Fans of acoustic guitar music, especially with a Latin flavor are encouraged to pick up both of these Lara and Reyes albums.

Edited by David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

Copyright 2001, Peterborough Folk Music Society and David Schultz.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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