Son de la Frontera | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Son de la Frontera

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The most exciting performance at the Flamenco 2006 festival may very well come from the least-known group on the schedule. The Seville quintet Son de la Frontera plays a stunningly aggressive brand of traditional flamenco on its self-titled debut, recently released on World Village. Furiously spitting guitars are interlaced with rhythms from South American countries like Argentina, Venezuela, and Colombia; leader Raul Rodriguez helped build this bridge across the Atlantic by adapting flamenco for the tres, a Cuban guitar whose strings are tuned in pairs to deliver a more astringent, twangy sound than a traditional acoustic guitar. (He got his first tres from his mother, the eccentric, polystylistic performer Maribel Quinones, aka Martirio.) The bulk of the group's repertoire was written by Spanish guitarist Diego del Gastor, so towering a figure for Rodriguez that he regularly visited the maestro's hometown of Moron de la Frontera to study and perform; two of Gastor's grandnephews, guitarist Paco de Amparo and dancer Pepe Torres, are now members of his band. Though Son de la Frontera has a terrific, throaty singer in Moi de Moron, the group is a genuine ensemble (rounded out by percussionist Manuel Flores) that devotes little space to extended soloing. And the songs leave ample room for moments where you can hear spontaneous comments or gasps of breath, which keep the music on a human scale. This is the group's U.S. debut and one of only two shows it's playing in the country. Fri 2/3, 8 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $15 in advance, $20 at the door.

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