Niebla provides a real experience

The Eduardo Niebla Experience, Bury St Edmunds Festival, Theatre Royal, Monday May 17

Two things initially put me off this concert - the word ‘Experience’ in the title (a tad pretentious maybe?), and the prospect of spending a couple of hours on the notoriously uncomfortable seating in the Theatre Royal.

Putting these reservations aside, however, I joined the capacity audience on Monday night to listen to a guitarist billed as “a formidable flamenco-jazz guitar virtuoso”. Eduardo Niebla, born in Tangier of Andalucian parents, was brought up in Catalonia. His musical style, built on the flamenco and jazz foundations of his earlier life, developed from an eclectic mix of influences following travels to India and the Middle East.

For this concert he was joined by fellow guitarist Ricardo Garcia and tabla player Dharmesh Parmar, who between them provided the harmonic and rhythmic backdrop against which Niebla, playing his own compositions, wove his complex and fiery melodies.

There was sometimes less flamenco and perhaps more jazz in evidence than I had expected, in a style in which the boundaries between written and improvised music often seemed blurred. The three musicians formed an impressively tight and sensitive ensemble and between them they generated a heady and colourful musical mix, truly spanning cultures and epochs.


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In some numbers, such as the early pieces ‘India’ ‘Mirror of Life’ and ‘Bali’ there were clear melodic and tonal references to the music of Asia. One piece, “Calle de la Tina” featured a brilliant and extraordinary rhythmic interplay between the three musicians, with Niebla using the body of the guitar to generate a huge range of different sounds.

So - as to my expectations? Well, the seating was pretty much as anticipated, but this virtuoso performance was indeed a real experience.

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Wynn Rees

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