Dave Martone entered my musical life, when the majority of the albums I listened to were instrumental ones. Filled with gifted guitar players, either shred or heavy fusion. For the record, my musical life is in a constant state of motion with a few “steady” genres, that always will be my favourites. Progressive rock/metal, fusion and instrumental guitar albums are the basics, added by styles that come and go. Back to Dave; B52 from the Zone (1999) album did it for me, his guitar sound and a majestic riff made me an instant fan of Martone's intense playing. At that time Dave had his brother Paul Martone playing on keyboards and David Spidel on bass, drums were played by Daniel Adair, who would later join 3 Doors Down and then transfer to Nickleback. All tree musicians still accompany Dave on a regular base and bass player Dave Spidel presents on the Nacimiento album alongside percussionist Mike Michalkow on the final song of the album.
With the new CD Nacimiento Dave Martone returns to the roots of his playing; the nylon stringed acoustic guitar. All compositions have been arranged so the outcome would give them a flamenco twist. I think it is very challenging to give some pretty well known songs that flamenco sound and tribute the original instead of ruining the original atmosphere of the composition. Aerosmith's Dream On is a song almost everybody knows and Dave's version stays pretty close to the original, nevertheless the flamenco treatment has spiced up the song, turning this to a success. Another classic rock highlight everybody knows is The Final Countdown by Europe. Even more than the previous mentioned song this one succeeded in keeping the original atmosphere, but here the flamenco really did take over, making this a highlight of the album. I am not that exited about another cover; the original Boney M “song” Rasputin, gives me shivers and I have to admit, so did Dave's version. Too bad he wasted his incredible talent to re-arrange this crap. Much better are the three compositions of Dave Martone's own hand, 11 11 11, Hola and Threesome. Good compositions in the vein of Rodrigo y Gabriela. Well played and showing what he is capable of. Nacimiento also sees traditionals like Maria Elena, Besame Mucho, Malagueña and Classical Gas. The latter I still remember in a more than perfect version of Tommy Emmanuel, but I have to say, this one is well done, more relaxed than Tommy's and impressively played. Finally we are treated by three themes from either movies or TV shows. Spider-Man, The Godfather Theme and Theme From Rocky are not the obvious songs when you want to pay tribute to the flamenco guitar. But in a way Dave nailed it to transfer these tunes into the flamenco way, personally not quite my favourites, but never close to a previous mentioned song.
I think Nacimiento shows Dave's skills on the nylon stringed guitar and his ability to transfer songs into the flamenco style he likes so much. Therefore this album is the perfect album for a mainstream audience, for the well-known originals and traditionals and for people who like acoustic guitar. Notice please, Dave is no Paco De Lucia and the compositions are tending towards the popular side of music. Personally I love Paco De Lucia's music and his duets with Al DiMeola are just amazing, which brings me to my final thought; I loved it when Al DiMeola decided to turn to the electric guitar again and did the thing he was really good at.
***+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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