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MP3 Brent Gunter - Andalucia

An alluring blend of soulful spanish guitars, modern chill grooves and ancient world rhythms.

10 MP3 Songs
WORLD: Flamenco, NEW AGE: New Age

When artists are pegged into specific musical categories, too often they are creatively restrained and not allowed to think outside the box. Not so with guitarist/composer Brent Gunter who, on his auspicious debut CD, Andalucia on Sandia Crest, has chosen to straddle many worlds in his world fusion instrumental music, from pop and blues to flamenco and Middle Eastern, laced with jazz and classical grace notes.

"My songs run through a broad spectrum," says the Portland, Ore.-based Gunter, who produced and recorded Andalucia in his home studio. "Rather than approach a thematic means of putting the music together, I decided to collect a bunch of songs that work together. My philosophy of music is moderation, respect for simplicity and a love for music of the world, including Western pop."

Gunter''s world fusion is equal parts world, pop and new age, with tinges of electronica, an array of Middle Eastern rhythms and scales, and an infusion of flamenco. In the liner notes of Andalucia, Gunter writes: "From the beginning of time, [the region of] Andalucia has exemplified the essence of fusion. Situated in southern Spain, people from the far reaches of the globe have settled there to create and contribute to its unique, multicultural place in history. Andalucia transcends its region. It is more a state of being."

Likewise, Andalucia is a crosscultural fusion of music (Gunter calls it "my very own Andalucia") that is both earth and sky-rooted yet transcendent. Centered around his Spanish guitar which lends itself not only to classical and flamenco influences but also the blues, the tunes possess a gentle, rolling quality yet are steeped with a percussive undertow of shakers, congas, djembes, cajons, tabla and dumbek. Keyboard electronica further flavors the mix.

All of Andalucia''s 10 pieces are Gunter originals. He opens the CD with the lyrical beauty, "Villa de Amor," then moves into electronica territory with "The Storm Is Near," accentuated by a bluesy bending of the guitar strings and undergirded by an exotic-sounding harmonic minor scale. The reflective "Solitude" is also blues-infused with flamenco colors, while the next tune, "Bella Noche," has a jazzy feel with Celtic tones.

Gunter''s guitar takes on an oud-like quality on the mysterious "Secret of the Tower," spiced with Middle Eastern drumming, which is followed by two romantic numbers: the R&B-styled "With My Heart" and the gently gliding "This Dance." After the atmospheric "Touch," the most obvious nod to the new-age genre, Gunter accelerates the tempo on the passionate "Moorish Groove" and concludes with the sacred muse, "Eternity," that floats in an otherworldly calm.

"I used the studio to my creative advantage," says Gunter. "I used it to explore the music, sometimes taking as many as 40 takes to see what direction a tune would go in. For example, on ''The Secret of the Tower,'' I improvised many different melodies until I came up with what felt the best."

Gunter''s bloodline is a multicultural melange of German, Cherokee, English, French and Irish. He was born in the Pacific Northwest and grew up in a musical family in the desert of north central New Mexico. He got his first Spanish guitar when he was 5 and was inspired to learn by his guitar-playing uncle and cousins. Classical and flamenco were early influences as family members used the styles to create their own fusion that included western swing, country and traditional Mexican songs. Gunter was also fascinated as a listener with symphonic music and soundtracks.

After going through his classic rock phase (Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, the hard rock of the ''80s), Gunter returned to music that was more classical-oriented. He studied classical composition in college and went on to explore the cross-pollination of musical styles. He also became a fan of guitarist Will Ackerman''s then-burgeoning early-''80s acoustic music revolution with his homebred Windham Hill label.

"Will was very inspirational, both musically and as a business do-it-yourselfer," says Gunter. "He never looked for anyone''s approval. At first, he made his records and sold them out of his car trunk at shows. His business philosophy inspired me to start my own label, Sandia Crest Entertainment, so that I could have the freedom to record the kind of album that I wanted."

Andalucia features Gunter on guitars, guitar-synth, keyboards, percussion; Sean Foote, bass; Matthew Lenhart, bass, keyboards; Jerry Jacques, drums; Michael Snyder, Thomas Schroyer, Michael Beach, Martin Zarzar, various percussion instruments.

Andalucia (Sandia Crest) will be released October 11, 2005. For more information, visit https://www.tradebit.com and https://www.tradebit.com.

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