By Chuck Diliberto



Adam del Monte, Federico Ramos, Ramon Stagnaro
World Disc Music

"Heart & Soul" is a passionate interplay of three of the world's renowned flamenco-style guitarists. Each composition is dedicated in the name of a loved one. The three main players, del Monte, Ramos, and Stagnaro, and the supporting players have devoted an individual composition to that special someone. Herein lie the romantic thrust and the heartfelt passion that drives flamenco music.

The music is dripping with sensuality, oozing with passion and raw emotion. The sensitivity and grace in the playing is emotionally provocative. The listener is drawn into a personal love letter that is being interpreted through aching and stimulating guitar playing. All of the secrets and joys of a professed love are tantalizingly shared. There are no barriers or limitations to prevent the heart from directing an outpouring of love and devotion.

Flamenco music is the panacea for the lovelorn heart. The music contained in "Heart & Soul" is sweet and gentle, unconditional and heart rendering. The melodies of del Monte, Ramos, and Stagnaro will permeate your soul, lifting the heart into a state of beloved bliss. Wonderfully beautiful, exquisitely played, tenderly shared, and selflessly given as a gift to all of us hopeless romantics who still believe in candlelight dinners, bottles of wine, and aromatically, esthetically pleasing bouquets of flowers.

For more information, call (800) 288-2007.



Lloyd Grotjan
Sagittaform Records

Many things spark inspiration within us. When that inspiration overflows there is a natural response to express that innate creativity. Lloyd Grotjan's music is inspired by nature and its' role in the development of his expanding consciousness. In his music, he is seeking to describe the unseen, that intangible web of understanding that disguises itself as a beguiling unknown.

Grotjan's compositions follow a "concept that is based on a natural cyclical progression of songs". This CD begins and ends, as a flow consciousness with no breaks in between. Grotjan is the sole progenitor of all the stringed instruments, percussion and minimal amounts of sample based synthesis used. The music is a curious mix of styles superimposed upon cultural and neo-rhythms. It is not unusual to hear flamenco-style guitar backed with a bosa nova beat, or a standard waltz backed by hard driving percussion.

Lloyd Grotjan has created a unique, if not peculiar, musical statement. The seemingly incongruent blending of divergent styles has led to a confluence of ideas that have rarely been heard placed together in the same musical context. This musical vision is at times eerie and disturbing. There is a deliberate attempt to sonically alter our attention. In this haze of originality, a new energy has emerged, mysterious, yet oddly moving. It is here that Lloyd Grotjan has carved out his own musical niche.

For more information, call (573) 635-0250.


Claudia Stern, Alvaro Taboada Alcione

"Alkymia" relates its' muse to the ancient alchemist. The changing of basic elements into something new and startling belies the inspiration for this work. The aural chanting of Claudia Stern titillates and excites the sensual instincts of human nature. She uses her voice to caress our senses, slowly relating her vision from a heart level that is both warm and troubling. Stern's embryonic phrasings are gently held by the nurturing guitar work of Alvaro Toboada. Taboada's guitar whispers gentle breezes as Stern cadently floats and swirls in this symbiosis of voice and instrument.

In the simplicity of this music an uncompromising purity resonates and pulses. Stern and Taboada have created a musical trance that transports the listener to the comforts of a womb state. There is a feeling of warmth and love that is contrasted with a subtle edge of tension. In this tension, the music explores the different dimensions of being flowing from within the source.

As first releases go, "Alkymia" is a milestone for Claudia Stern and Alvaro Taboada. Their ambient sound is pleasing, rich and textural. This music is ideal for relaxing and unwinding into a meditative flow of consciousness without much effort on the listener. A nice way to end the day.

For more information, call (888) 4-R-MUSIK.


Michael Hedges
Windham Hill Records

We are often confronted with peculiar coincidences that hearken towards a bigger picture. In this bigger picture, synchronicity replaces coincidence and consciousness replaces logic. Before "Torched" was finished and released, Michael Hedges was killed in a tragic automobile accident on a California highway. After listening we are left with a strong sense that Hedges intuited a change unfolding in his life, a change that lifted him beyond his search, and his own mortality to a place of eternity and answered questions.

The material contained within this CD is musically as well as Spiritually vibrant. There is a remarkable comparison between Michael Hedges and Graham Nash and David Crosby's music. The vocals are emotionally charged, laden with vision, introspection, and a socio-political consciousness. Hedge's acoustic guitar playing is familiar in its' tone, but amazingly original and innovative. He is a musician's musician, music for music's sake.

The lyrics are laced with religious symbology and cosmic messages. The dawning of a "New Age" of consciousness was upon Michael Hedges. His search was bringing him closer to the center of his being, and ultimately, his timeless passing.

"Torched" is how we feel when we are touched by the Spirit and left in the aftermath of putting the pieces back together. Michael Hedges was putting the puzzle back together when he died. His final offering is a work in progress unquestionably, unfinished, possibly, for all of us living a life dependent upon the creative process. This is a necessary purchase.

For more information, call (310) 358-4850.

Chuck Diliberto is a resident of New York State. Having written for a hometown publication that covered local and national musicians, reviewing CDs is an extension of that experience. His main interests are spiritual in nature and right living in practice.

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