“As the title says, there is nothing but guitar”, José Luis Montón remarks in a brief and self-effacing liner note. Just an acoustic guitar, and an astonishing guitarist. Over the years at ECM it has often been the case that one record production has opened a door into another, and when Manfred Eicher heard José Luis Montón’s creative and sensitive playing at the session for singer Amina Alaoui’s Pan-Iberian “Arco Iris” project, the potential of a solo disc from Montón was apparent at once. Like “Arco Iris”, “Solo Guitarra” was recorded at the Auditorium RSI Lugano in Switzerland. The session took place in April 2011, exactly one year after the Alaoui date.
In the solo pieces heard here the resourceful Montón builds upon the template, energy and emotional intensity of flamenco in the creation of his own pieces, rooted in the tradition and at the same time reaching toward new destinations: “Flamenco is very beautiful in itself and I am deeply grateful for the inspiration it has given me throughout my career and my personal struggle to find myself through music. I owe a special debt of gratitude to all the great masters of flamenco guitar that have enriched so much its language, introducing new characters in the alphabet of flamenco.” The flow of ideas in Montón’s pieces can be breathtaking, as melodic lines splinter into flurries of notes or dance elegantly through stacked rhythms, virtuosity always harnessed to thoroughly musical ends. The music also draws from other resources including classical music, Baroque music being specifically acknowledged with the J.S. Bach-inspired “Air”, which references the “Air” from Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1068.
Born in Barcelona in 1962 José Luis Montón made his debut as a concert artist there in 1989. His recordings as a leader include "Flamenco entre amigos" (1996), “Aroma” (1997), “Sin querer” (2000), “De la felicidad” (2005), “Flamenco Arabe 2” (2006), “Flamenco Kids” (2010) and “Flamenco Etxea” (2011). One of the characteristics of his work has been a willingness to search for points of contact with other disciplines and cultures. Amongst many examples are his “Flamenco Arabe” project with Egyptian percussionist Hossam Ramzy and collaborations with Lebanese classical violinist Ara Malikian. Montón has also explored the common ground between flamenco and music of the Basque region in work with accordionist Gorka Hermosa, played with singers of flamenco and fado traditions including Misia, Carmen París, María Berasarte, Mayte Martín, composed music for dance and theatre and much more...
For Montòn there is a common denominator running through such projects. “When I faced the challenge of doing this solo album, I wondered what it was that touched me the most in an artist’s work and concluded that it was the quality of sincerity. In this music I have tried to translate that sincerity and love of art which I appreciate so much when I encounter it.”
Montón’s current projects-in-progress include “Clavileño”, described as “a new way of feeling Spanish Baroque music”, tracing rhythmic dances of the Baroque back to Arab origins. He is also presenting a show based upon Bach and flamenco rhythms in Seville in April 2013, and collaborating on a programme of Spanish Songs of the 19th Century with classical guitarist David González and singer Clara Montes.