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Allow Flamenco Guitarist Vicente Amigo to Pluck at Your Soul

You know you want to. 

 

It isn't often you get a chance to observe total mastery. Which is why if you care about music, and creativity, and expertise so profound that it expands your notion of humanity, you should drop everything and get down to SF Jazz tonight, Saturday, or Sunday to listen to one of the greatest instrumental virtuosos on the planet: Vicente Amigo. 

I love flamenco—to me, it is the greatest folk music in the world—but don’t keep up with it, and I only heard about Vicente Amigo a month or so ago. While attending a show at SF Jazz, I was looking through the program when a quote jumped out at me. Pat Metheny was quoted as saying, “Vicente Amigo is the greatest guitarist alive.” Since Pat Metheny is himself one of the greatest jazz guitar virtuosos of all time, these were words to be taken seriously. So I put Amigo into my Pandora playlist—and was totally blown away.

Like the late Paco de Lucia, Amigo is one of the new generation of flamenco maestros. Which means he is grounded in the bulerias, alegrias, and other classic rhythms made famous by guitarists like Sabicas, Montoya, and Manitas de Plata, but adds harmonic complexity, a bass player, and creative percussion to that fiery musical origin. As a rapturous, nearly sold-out audience at the Miner Auditorium Thursday night can attest, the result is breathtaking, music whose passion is matched by its daring. Listening to it is like being carried along down a surging river of life, new worlds coming into existence with every movement of Amigo’s godlike hands. A critic once wrote of Manitas de Plata that he was not only the greatest flamenco guitarist, but perhaps the greatest virtuoso on any instrument: “To conceive is to execute.” The same could be said of Amigo. He is not only astonishing but inspiring. He and his insanely tight band make music that is technically mind-blowing, but at the same time so deep and primordial that it recalls ancient cave paintings. It makes you want to do whatever it is you do well, and do it a little better. Because in the intoxicating human universe to which Amigo throws open the door, there are no limits.

  

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