Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sultry Musical Nights or Thanks Ottmar Liebert

Music fills the infinite between two souls.
Rabindranath Tagore

What an incredible night that almost wasn't. Today was boiling and the smoky skies were back again. Then tonight was the Ottmar Liebert and Luna Negra concert. Earlier today I had checked the website I used to get tickets and it said the concert was at 8 o'clock. Well it wasn't, it was at 7. We had to drive an hour to get there to start with. Luckily I had planned to get there earlier to pick up said tickets. Missed the first quarter of the concert and was forced to sit in the back as they couldn't seat us in the second row from the stage. Add to the fun was others coming in with the same concept that the concert started at 8 pm. Then we had a bitchy usher who kept commenting that no one had missed anything as the music was all the same (guess she's used to three chord bands and can't appreciate musical complexity beyond that). I pushed her out of mind and settled in to enjoy the music which was incredible.

Luckily we got the seats after intermission. The music went from incredible to sublime. I have to explain. I've been exposed to music from childhood due to my Celtic ancestored family. Guitars, fiddles, mandolins and the occasional bodhran came out regularly at family gatherings. I began playing music while in high school (guitar mostly) and continued on to performances sometimes solo, sometimes with others (now an avocation). Also, once I hit college my music tastes exploded and I haven't looked back. So the opportunity to watch the musicians interact close up on stage always brings me back to my roots. That's why these days most the concerts I attend are in smaller venues. To watch musicians communicate with each other while playing tells you as much as the music itself and it's an intense pleasure when the musicians are so obviously into what they are doing.

The stage itself was set up simply with 2 sets of colored screens in the rear. There were the 4 on stage consisting of Ottmar Liebert, another guitar player, a bassist and a percussionist. They also had synthesizers. In front of theme were lit candles, there was also a soft smell of relaxing incense. There wasn't much talking, just the music and what music. Ottmar Liebert's music (both on his own and with Luna Negra) has been called nouveau flamenco, new age, jazz, but his music defies labels (which is what I enjoy so much). You can definitely taste the flamenco flavor, but the musical stew they cook provides it's own relish. He isn't afraid to use an electric guitar which surprised some people around me. The music flowed easily between him and Luna Negra. It was sultry, spiritual and spicy by varying turns. But they weren't selfish, they invited others in to share the intimacy they were creating amongst themselves. Each took turns showing their musical gifts. There was an assuredness yet spontaneity in their playing. We talk about being in the "flow" these days. This concert certainly was in that. It went so fast it was hard to believe it had ended. I had waited 10 years to catch them in a venue and it was even better then expected. We agreed we had climbed the stairs of musical nirvana.

While I have most of the CDs available, I did find one I didn't have. The weather had cooled to a bearable level so we drove home with windows/moon roof open, CD playing, wind teasing our skin, the half moon tailing us and laughter ringing out. I dropped my friend off, then headed home. While stopped at a light a car full of teenage guys next to me wanted to know who I had playing. The song happened to be "Snakecharmer" one his more famous compositions. So I gave them the info and off they went. It was the perfect end to a fantastic night. Thanks.

Ottmar Liebert, "Snakecharmer":

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