• Jonathan Widran

DAVE SOLDIER, Zajal

Flamenco guitarist, composer, multi-instrumentalist and musical visionary Dave Soldier has been blazing fascinating, culturally transcendent boundaries his whole life – from founding a string quartet that fused punk, classical and R&B to playing punk Delta Blues and starting the Thai Elephant Orchestra with real pachyderms.

So we shouldn’t be surprised that on his latest majestic epic, Zajal, he surrounds his joyfully rhythmic, ultra-infectious flamenco fire with a vast palette of sweeping musical colors and intricate, exotic textures that illuminate a fascinating slice of Spanish history.

On the 11-track collection, which features a large global ensemble of vocalists, musicians and dancers, Soldier showcases the fruits of his personal exploration of popular song – mining pure sonic gold and spirited adventures from a spot 1000 years ago at the intersection of Muslim, Jewish and Christian cultures in the Andalusian region of southern Spain.

As he illustrates throughout on soft spoken, folkloric Hebrew language ballads like “Battle” and “Land of Spain,” and more sensual expressions like “Without Myself” (Farsi), this era (900-1400 C.E.) is the Golden Age of Spain that created the tradition of Western Song.

The spicy cultural mix includes pieces in Arabic and English and the influences of rumba, fandango, tango flamenco and paso doble. It’s an immersion into another time and place that can also be fully embraced as a fun and unpredictable global fusion album of the moment.

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