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Live in Japan ()

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Mexico City's Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero must think highly of themselves as talented instrumental musicians who like to jam fast, show off quite a bit, and cater to the baser instincts of an image conscious and viscerally driven rock type audience, even in Japan. When you get past the ego driven music presented here in what must be an atypical (for them) large concert hall engagement, you can easily hear two extremely talented musicians playing to a crowd, the patrons enthusiastically responding, and everyone enjoying themselves for an escapist hour. Having said that, Rodrigo y Gabriela are impressive musicians, barely losing a beat or fluffing fretted single-line runs, percussive chords, and occasionally amplified and effects driven inserts. Their single intent is to blow you away with their virtuosic licks and riffs, and they generally succeed. One noticeable aspect of this concert is that the guitarists stop frequently during songs, as if they are gathering themselves for the next salvo while their fans go wild -- the plant...run approach. Flamenco or jazz purists likely will see through the haze of trumped up tunes, as actual improvisation, intimacy, or subtleties are avoided except in select instances. Copping licks from rock tunes, Jimi Hendrix, and a trimmed version of "Stairway to Heaven" emphasizes this point. Still there are redeeming original moments in concept, as "O.K. Tokyo" eschews a funky blues mood, the 6/8 modal "Satori" is lower key and sweeter with stairstep progressions, "Vikingman" is closest to traditional flamenco by degrees with some neat interplay, and their flash point is muted during "One" with patient constructs, pronounced musicality and better harmonics. A version of Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" sounds rushed tempo wise, but is understated, not brash, despite the fast pace. Their lone extended piece over eleven minutes, "Foc" utilizes a spritely repeat melody, stopped and started with the most dazzling display of chops. At the end of the program each presents a solo piece, where Gabriela proves the sensitive guitarist, while Rodrigo is the driving force and hot rod pilot. The operative description for Rodrigo Y Gabriela is pyrotechnics, so if speed king and queen type virtuosity (they are virtuosos) is your thing, then this should appeal to you as might Jeff Beck, John McLaughlin, Al DiMeola, or Allan Holdsworth. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi Hide synopsis

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