Red Pig Recordings
Gomez claims he is the king of Spanish banjo. He is a mighty fine banjo player by anyone’s account. Able to play Scruggs-style, along with a highly developed melodic approach, there seems to be no end to Gomez’s imagination. Through 13 cuts, we’re treated to many tunes with and without English names. The “Foggy Mountain Medley,” “Pony Express,” and “Devil’s Dream” should be tunes most American bluegrass fans will be more familiar with. The medley of Scruggs numbers is impressive, as they romp through quite a few of Scruggs’ classic pieces.
This is a most interesting recording with a very European feel at times, especially with their take on “Nola” and “Slavic Waltz.” There are moments of jazz and improvisation unusual for a banjo recording. The guitar playing is stylistically more Django influenced than American bluegrass guitarists. Considering this recording was done live in three takes or less, this music is more alive than the overproduced products that often hide the human aspect behind technical expertise. “Rocky Mountains” is an eight-minute-plus musical romp. Here, the guitar sounds more like what one would expect in a bluegrass context.
There are standout performances by assisting musicians on this project as well. Joan Pau Cumellas plays some amazing harmonica, Maribel Rivero is an expert on upright bass. There are several banjo players helping out, including Ron Cody, Jean Marie Redon, and Fred Simon. Jesse Brock appears on mandolin, along with Oriol Gonzalez who also plays some piano.
If you’re a fan of great banjo playing and interested in where it can go musically, this is an essential recording. The boundaries of what is banjo music are growing at an exponential rate. This CD does significant work in moving those boundaries. (www.lluisgomez.com)RCB