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John Williams
EL DIABLO SUELTO
(Sony Classical)
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Guitarist John Williams has an adventurous spirit thatís unusual among classical guitarists. Itís tempting to see his exploration of Venezuelan guitar music as a continuation of his foray into African guitar music on 2001ís The Magic Box (Sony Classical), and in a way it is. Williamsís notes emphasize the African expertise in string music ó non-existent among native Indians in Venezuela prior to the Spanish arrival ó and he finds polyrhythmic qualities in Venezuelan music that can have originated only in Africa. It turns out heís been listening to and playing this country's guitar music for some 50 years, and he approaches it with a mastery he could hardly have matched on his African record. Whether in duo with Alfonso Montes on cuatro ó Venezuela's national instrument ó or on his own, Williams exhibits irresistible musicality on these 26 tracks. Some pieces deliver the elegant lyricism of classical Spanish guitar music; others are informed by folkloric sources, like Ovelio Rieraís canción "Seis por dereche," which layers 6/8 and 4/4 rhythms in just the sort of Africanism Williams now savors. But the analysis doesn't matter: the music is fresh and beautiful, and his execution strikes the perfect balance between virtuosity and free-spirited ease.

BY BANNING EYRE


Issue Date: December 12 - 18, 2003
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