So the first review for the new CD Contra Tiempo came from Spain’s Chalaura.com where you’ll find interviews and reviews of all the good flamenco going on in Spain. Really nice review from Pablo San Nicasio, who came out to see us play at Bogui Jazz in Madrid at the beginning of last year.
“It was only recently that we learned of the existence of Kai Narezo. It was Graciliano Perez Carrizosa, a guitar builder considered one of the best in his trade, who put me on the trail of this American guitarist with a tremendous calling for Flamenco.
Kai, an artist who received his musical education from Berklee College of Music, considered by many to be the best music school on the planet. This fact alone has generated considerable interest in how Kai would go about completing his debut album.
This unusual album includes no less than four Bulerías and one Solea Por Bulerias out of nine total tracks. The only moment of “freedom” from compás is the Granaína. To begin with one might think, well, a typical “guiri” guitarist in love with Jerez but this is not the case at all. Kai Narezo is truly a phenomenal player.
As we listen certain things become clear: In the first place we note Kai’s solid technique, not just instrumentally, but also in the realm of expression. Clearly, he is a master of both the instrument and the intrinsic language of flamenco.
In short: Narezo has perfectly captured the aire of the flamenco guitar. This is not something he learned at Berklee, but in Spain. Throughout the album the level of flamencura matches the the level of virtuosity, and that is saying a lot! “Contra Tiempo” is full of incredible falsetas. The tracks are generous in length, and richly crafted with his unique soniquete.
Secondly we must consider the mastery and thoughtful handling of the flamenco ensemble. Something that we can surely assume is due to his tremendous education in this field. This is where Berklee comes in to play. All of the bass, percussion, second guitar and even the palmas simply fit to perfection. That and the fact that his collaborators are experts in the subject of flamenco. All the members of Kai’s band are extraordinary musicians, and the most notable of them, to whom we must give a 10 of 10, is Jorge Pérez González. A true wonder we can only hope to see in concert. Congratulations!
Thirdly, Kai crafts harmonies and melodies with astonishing skill and ability. With this CD a guitarist could easily pass as an expert player from Caño Roto or even from Jerez. Being an accomplished instrumentalist in other styles in combination to his rhythmic swing we can appreciate the result, in the Alegrías, a true instrumental gem and that is just for starters. Not to be overlooked, are the Tanguillos which have a superb introduction and body and the Granaína, a true gift of falsetas and delicate harmonic tensions and resolutions.
Ah! and let’s not forget the bulerias. Yes, there are four of them but they are so rich in color and nuance and so different from each other….. What we have here is veritable thesis in this style of playing. The instrumentals, the numbers with vocals, some tracks are more laid back and others more upbeat, some have rhythmic sections others emphasize the guitar itself and still others incorporate the group combo, some are more lyrical……
In conclusion, “ContraTiempo” can be classified as a significant milestone: a debut album which is at the same time a culmination. A real whirlwind, giving wings to the idea that we are listening to one of the best flamenco guitarists born outside of Spain. Or, unless we are very mistaken, this may be a guitarist who has within him the ability to explore other styles and incorporate them with almost insulting ease.”
** Huge thanks to Gabriel Osuna for the translation.