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Album Review: El Dorado
Luna Blanca
Cover image of the album El Dorado by Luna Blanca
El Dorado
Luna Blanca
2012 / Richard Hecks
63 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Who would have thought that a group of German musicians would rise to the top as one of the most popular nouveau-flamenco groups in the world? Guitarist Richard Hecks and company have done just that with their first four international hits, and their new El Dorado will undoubtedly ensure that they will stay on top for some time to come. Their upbeat, often playful, music is the perfect accompaniment for good times - parties, dances, barbecues, you name it - or simply wanting to listen to happy music. The other mainstay of the group is pianist Helmut Graebe who also co-writes the music with Hecks. In performance as well as on recordings, other musicians are added to create the sound they want with drums, percussion, bass, acoustic rhythm guitars, organ, and occasional vocalizing. According to Hecks, listening to El Dorado is “a musical adventure that simulates a journey and search through South America looking for riches, but encountering both bandits and the good native people, music, rivers to cross, and the beauty of a new land including warm breezes and sunsets. El Dorado also is a symbol of everyone’s search in life for love, wealth, accomplishment and happiness.”

Our journey to the fabled city of El Dorado begins with “Los Ojos” (The Eyes), an adrenaline-raising bit of musical excitement that includes the laughter of a joyful voyager anxious to get his adventure underway. The title tune reminds me of the innocence of some of the wonderful guitar-driven instrumentals of the 1960’s. “Desperado” has its own story to tell with sounds of gunshots, a horse whinnying, and tolling bells at the end of the piece. “Medianoche” slows the tempo to a gentle slow dance that includes piano, guitars, and blues harmonica. “Summer Breeze” has the warm, soothing sway that the title implies - perfect for a siesta! In “Rio Mamore’,” the guitars play a catchy rhythm while harmonica and lead guitar convey a heart-tugging melancholy. I really like this one! “Kolibri” is pure musical excitement with an intense beat, hand percussion, horns, and a melody that swirls and leaps like a dancer. “Conquistador” is a soulful guitar piece that shows the tender side of these fabulous musicians. “Puesta Del Sol” brings our journey to a close, richly rewarded and happy to have made the trip. The slow, graceful tempo of this piece is quite different from the opening track and is a wonderful way to close. The album also includes a bonus track, which is a radio edit of “Desperado.”

If you enjoy Latin music, nouveau-flamenco, and/or exceptionally well-played instrumental music that tells a story, be sure to check this one out! It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!
July 4, 2012
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