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World Music CD Reviews Europe

Roger Scannura & Ritmo Flamenca

By Robert Kaye
Published January 5, 2007

Noche Flamenca
Self-released

From the opening measures of Scannura’s sixth CD, the authentic verve of flamenco guitarist Roger Scannura and his imaginative quartet captivates the ear. This isn’t a commercialized, flamenco-like facsimile marketed with fancy cover artwork and flowery verbiage. Scannura’s knowledge of flamenco, coupled with his formidable musicianship, is organic and genuine. It’s no wonder he was the first flamenco guitarist ever invited to join the faculty of the York Music Department in Toronto, where he lives. Originally a native of the Mediterranean Island of Malta, Scannura studied flamenco guitar under the legendary Pepe Habichuela and other gypsy masters. It shows. On every track, his technique and approach to flamenco puro is confident and masterful. Eschewing the use of overdubs or electronic instrumentation, Scannura and his ensemble—including his wife, Valeria, performing taconeo (dance), palmas (handclapping) and castanuelas (castanets)—explore the full spectrum of flamenco’s emotional palette. Scannura is among an elite group of exceptional North American flamenco guitarists—including Jason McGuire, Dennis Koster, Miguel Espinoza, and Miguel de la Bastide (also from Canada)—who demonstrate, over and over, that one needn’t hail from Andalucia to be imbued with its soul.