Saturday, March 17, 2012

Del Castillo - Infinitas Rapsodias

It is times like this that I really wish I was fluent in Spanish. 

I remember a high school Spanish 2 test where I was confronted with a photograph of a beautiful silver dinner fork.  It had an exquisite scroll work handle and four equally-spaced tapered prongs.  The instructions were to identify the object in español using the proper noun and gender. I just stared.  I couldn’t remember the word.  Time was not on my side.  I quickly filled in “el forko,” because I truly was forko’d on that one, and moved on.  However, my linguistic handicap never stopped me from slipping across the Mexican border during college to order “una mas cerveza” before it was legal for me to do so in the U.S. Yet, I can’t help feel that I’m missing out on an entire universe of experience or, at least, a different lens through which to experience the universe.

I started playing guitar in the folk tradition in the 1960’s.  As a beginner I admired such pieces as Besame Mucho and Malengueña.  The frantic dance and rapid fire guitar of flamenco intrigued me. Later, players and bands comprised of the likes of Segovia, Carlos Montoya, Paco de Lucia and Carlos Santana elevated my latin guitar music experience to one of reverence.

Now, I can add Del Castillo to my latin guitar music reverential list.  Del Castillo combines elements of Rock, Latin, Blues, Flamenco and World music into beautiful Spanish guitar-based soundscapes.  Infinitas Rapsodias is a special 2-disc set that also includes a 5-track bonus DVD that has a March 13, 2012 scheduled release date.  Del Castillo is a band based in Austin, Texas comprised of guitarist brothers Rick and Mark del Castillo; lead singer Alex Ruiz; Albert Besteiro on bass, Mike Zeoli on drums and Jason Murdy on percussion. Infinitas Rapsodias showcases five brand new Del Castillo songs, as well as newly-created versions of several tunes from prior CDs. The band even includes a World Music take on their popular song, “Maria” - this time sung in Italian .  They also sing one song, “Brotherhood”, in English.

Part of the CD is out of left field, but, even left field can be absolutely beautiful.  Austin artists  guitarist Monte Montgomery, singers Malford Milligan and Leann Atherton, and violinists/gypsy fiddlers Erik Hokkanen and Phoebe Hunt help out adding layers of sound and emotion. The release closes with a wondrous classic opera duet, “Amor Venme a Buscar”, performed by acclaimed German opera diva, Anna Maria Kaufmann, and Alex Ruiz of Del Castillo,  This is passionate music and, for the most part, I don’t understand a word of it and I don’t care.  It is just that good.

Once I sat on a bench outside the Madrid, Spain municipal swimming pool,  It was over 100 degrees out and I took off my 45 lb back pack to have a cigarette.  There were two flamenco guitarists ripping it up on the lawn with a beautiful lady practicing flamenco dance moves in the square in front of the pool entrance.  I had a pack of Spanish Marlboros but no way to light a smoke and couldn’t remember the Spanish word for match.  I approached every smoker walking to and from the pool and, in broken Spanish, asked “¿la luz?” 

Women stared at me and protected their children.  Men looked at me quizzically.  Finally, a U.S. ex-pat came up to me and said, “You’re American, right?”  I looked at him and nodded.  He then said, “You might want to stop asking everyone for a light bulb.  Here,” He lit a match, “It’s ‘el fosforo’.”  At first it didn’t register. The music was beautiful, the Spanish sun was bright.  The cacophony of children in water play mixed with the music and voices.   I stared not understanding and then was enlightened, “Oh, that’s match!” I exclaimed.  He handed me the matchbook, said “Keep them,” and then something I didn’t understand.  But I think he was talking about the Lone Ranger because I distinctly remember him pointing at me and saying “tonto.”

- Old School

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