Review: Mood lifting music in new project

Nuestras Vivencias

Warwick Arts Centre, December 1

Coventry-based flamenco guitarist David Shepherd has long been an educator and his new project, Nuestras Vivencias, with fellow guitarist Juan Casals Mendoza, gives plenty of rein to that impulse.

Weaving their own compositions through music written by some of Spain’s flamenco masters, the pair make a point of giving an informative context to what they’re playing. And with singer and percussionist Glenn Phillips alongside, they’re able to range across the gipsy and traditional styles of Andalusia to the songs of Columbia and the rhythms of the rumba and the bossa nova.

But that’s only the beginning for an evening in which the sounds leap continents while a capacity audience in the Arts Centre’s studio looks on entranced.

The mood changes at the end of the first half of the concert, when tabla master Juggy Rihal makes an appearance, adding depth to a rousing Columbian song in which Phillips and Mendoza share the vocals while Shepherd takes a back seat on bass guitar.

After the break, Rihal introduces a flurry of performances – ragas on a sitar, songs from the Indian classical tradition and music from the Persian lute - before leading a finale in which he darts from one percussion instrument to another while a band of dhol drummers, his own students, can barely contain their excitement at the sound they are creating.

It’s world music at its most literal. And Shepherd, the linchpin in all of this, deserves huge credit for putting together such an impressive contribution to the Arts Centre’s Under The Radar strand of programming, which gives a showcase to emerging musicians in the Midlands.

With talent around like this, we’re truly regionally blessed.

Rating 9/10.

By Peter Walters.