Andreas Arnold grew up in a family of classical musicians in southern Germany. As a teenager, he fell in love with Paco de Lucia’s guitar playing, but he went on to study jazz guitar at the conservatory of Amsterdam. He later moved to New York City to learn from Mike Stern, John Abercrombie and Wayne Krantz, before entering a period of complete dedication to the art of flamenco guitar.
He is currently the musical director for internationally renowned Jordanian singer Farah Siraj as well as for the New York Flamenco Jazz Project. While living between New York City and Andalusia, Spain, Arnold has participated in numerous productions as an instrumentalist, composer, improviser, and producer, touring on five continents. On his album ‘Ojos Cerrados’ he was accompanied among others by Carles Benavent, legendary and longtime bass player of Paco de Lucia.
To date, Arnold has released three albums of original electric and acoustic music under his name. The one which has arrived to us is ‘Odisea’ a nine song CD where Andreas develops his personal style, with unquestionable influences from flamenco music and jazz, but probably also other elements.
Odisea has a brilliant start with ‘Cai-Bk’ (I imagine ‘Cai’, refers to the city of Cadiz, although pronounced with the local southern Spanish accent), where the guitar meets the double bass (Petros Klampanis) and the percussion (Miguel Hiroshi), in a very jazzy mood. ‘Alas al Alma’ is very flamenco song with the cante (voice) of Rocio Parilla, the electric bass guitar played by Ricardo Piñero, Carlos Ronda beating the cajón, and clapping hands by Alejandro Fernández, Rocio & Ricardo.
‘Paris, Ciel Gris’ may be a basic sample of the excellent blends that the spin-offs of flamenco guitar music have managed to achieve with Jazz after so many decades of experimentation (like back in the late 1970s: Paco De Lucia playing together with Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin, Chic Korea,...). It is again Klampanis’s bass joining the harmonies of the guitar, but also followed by David Enhcos’s trumpet.
This sort of smooth blend is now fully developed again in ‘SoleaxH2O’, although this time Andrea’s guitar combines flamenco harmonies with the piano & the melodica played by Guy Mintus. The song ‘Alikianos’ (named after the village in Creta?), resembles a kind of fusion with the music from the regions where Eastern & Southern Europe meet Asian or N-African territories, as represented by the violin of Maria Manousaki, and the frame drum played by Hiroshi.
‘Odisea’ is another journey sailing on the ‘flamenco sea’, with Juan y Lucas Carmona (percussion and clapping hands), and the charming trio of the guitar with the trumpet and the bass. ‘Tangos Arabes’ starts with the vocals of Cristian Soto in a kind of prayer, that probably evokes the strong connections between flamenco and the traditions of northern Africa.
The final tune is ‘Continuum’ (by Jaco Pastorius), again a beautiful job done by Andreas, Petros Klampanis (bass) and Miguel Hiroshi (percussion). A sort of final label of “Flamenco—Jazz guaranteed” stamped on this excellent album by a true guitar virtuoso and his band.
Photo Credits: (1)-(2) Andreas Arnold, (3) Paco de Lucia (unknown/website).