THE WHOLE NOTE JULY 1-SEPTEMBER 7, 2006 NEW MUSIC REVIEWS BY CATHY RICHES Flamenco Caravan is an incongruity. Based in one of the winteriest cities in Canada, this band has managed to produce music that feels it's straight out of the Mediterranean. Perhaps it's precisely because they're from Thunder Bay that they've been motivated to make this lovely, little digital vacation, because playing "Love's Philosophy" instantly transports us to the sunny South. Where in the South exactly is a little nebulous, because although there are touches of flamenco, which evoke Spain, France also asserts itself with the addition of accordion (or the accordion setting on the keyboard), as does South America with the bossa nova influence. We even veer to the Middle East, briefly. All of this adds up to a breezy, rhythmical journey. Guitarist and song writer, Esteban Figueroa is the heart of the band, with his flamenco background, which we get a nice taste of his solo Casa del Carmen. Susanna DiGuiseppe is literally and figuratively the voice of the band. Although she is a skilled keyboard player and songwriter, it is her beautiful singing that underlines the sound of this band. The soft, breathy tone she uses on most of her tunes never loses focus, and when she gets to let the reins out a bit, her power and range are impressive. The third key member of the band is Tony Agostino who does double duty as song writer and solid rhythm guitarist. Percussion by Alberto Figueroa and bass by Tom Boshcoff round out this eclectic, easygoing ensemble. Flamenco Caravan, while being true to flamenco forms, also blends the band members' favorite musical influences of Latin, jazz, rock, sacred and blues, capturing the imagination of the soul through guitar, rhythm and song. Between lightning-speed guitar flourishes, melting vocals, and the entire band's driving and grooving rhythms and electric chemistry, audience members of every age have been won over. The music has been described as 'world-class', 'beautiful and magical', 'moving', 'amazing in it's variety' and 'alternately soothing and stirring to the soul'. The comment most often offered to the band after a performance is, 'I couldn't sit still! I just wanted to get up and dance!' Formed in 1999, Flamenco Caravan has evolved to include Esteban Figueroa on lead guitar, Susanna DiGiuseppe on keyboards and vocals, Tony Agostino on rhythm guitar, Jim Differ on drums and percussion, and Greg McIntosh on bass. Often additional musicians on percussion, backing vocals, trumpet and other instruments add to the band's full sound. In 2005, Flamenco Caravan recorded 'Love's Philosophy' and launched the CD on October 7th at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium to an 800+ audience. General Manager of the auditorium, Bob Halverson, commented: 'That, in my mind, was one of the finest shows I've ever seen in that building. You expect someone on the international stage to be good, but when you find someone in Thunder Bay who is as good or better, that ices it for you.' Flamenco Caravan has been interviewed by CBC radio at the local and national levels. Both Love's Philosophy and Flamenco Caravan's second CD, Alchemy, have been successfully auditioned by national CBC Radio and distributed to it's stations nationwide. In addition, 'Love's Philosophy' was named a top 13 CD pick of 2006 by CBC Radio Music Resources out of an estimated 800 other CD's submitted in 2006. On April 28, 2007, Flamenco Caravan launched Alchemy at a concert attended by over 1100 enthusiastic people at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium. The band looks forward to promoting it's new CD in the upcoming months and performing at the 2007 Ottawa Jazz Festival on June 27.
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