Miguel Espinoza Flamenco Fusion : Living in a Daydream Review
Miguel Espinoza Flamenco Fusion brings a distinctive flamenco sound to the world music scene. The core group of musicians forming the music is Miguel Espinoza (guitar), Dianne Betkowski (cello, palmas, and vocals), Andy Skellenger (tabla, cajon, and vocals), and Randy Hoepker (bass). Rounding out the ensemble on various songs are Mario Moreno – congas, timbales, and percussion; Linda Richardson – castanets; and Nabin Shrestha – tabla and vocals. Living in a Daydream is Miguel Espinoza Flamenco Fusion’s third full-length album, with four of the eight compositions collaborating with two-time GRAMMY winner Howard Levy (harmonica/piano).
“Nagi Yaté” is the opening composition and features Levy and Skellenger. The composition has a graceful melody through a defined form of various styles and harmonic structures. Skellenger’s tabla adds to Espinoza’s elegant guitar playing. The flamenco influence is romantic and the backbone of the rhythmic structures. Levy’s harmonica blends with the warmth of Betkowski’s cello to form a powerful melodic frontline. Espinoza’s composing is just as dynamic and imaginative as his guitar playing.
“Journey Home” is an ever-changing composition filled with fluid transitions and intoxicating rhythms. Betkowski’s solo is lyrical as she spans the range of the cello with ease and grace. Espinoza’s guitar playing is rhythmic and supportive all the while. Espinoza leans more toward the flamenco milieu via its chordal sequences and rhythmic flow. Betkowski’s cello sounds excellent and adds a Western classical flair, and Hoepker’s pointillistic nuanced bass anchors. All of this allows the Skellenger’s tabla to expertly soar around the edges.
Living in a Daydream is a world music project that sits at the juncture of flamenco meets sounds from around the world. As a result, the music comes to life with swarming rhythms and hummable melodies. Espinoza excels throughout as the anchor, and his synchronism with Betkowski is outstanding. Miguel Espinoza Flamenco Fusion is an ensemble with a sincere connection to the material, exceptional guest artists, and an excellent group leader.
Miguel Espinoza Flamenco Fusion
Living in a Daydream
April 23, 2022