Santa Fe’s Grammy award nominee Ottmar Liebert and Luna Negra are coming to town and will play songs fans have come to know and love, as well celebrate their new release Waiting n Swan featuring music by Bob Marley.
Liebert is a six-time Grammy nominee with multiple Gold and Platinum records who has sold millions of records across the globe. A skilled practitioner of contemporary flamenco guitar, he is always a surprise. He plays with lots of textures – contrasting traditional and electric instruments. Liebert will play songs from prior albums as well as songs from his new album.
About his new release Waiting n Swan: Ottmar Liebert: The Musical Love of His Youth, Today: Reggae is music with an international voice. And the sound of reggae’s great icon, Bob Marley, still echoes all around the world. His songs have become part of the global lexicon, instantly recognizable and universal loved. For famed guitarist Ottmar Liebert, Marley was the soundtrack of his youth, one of his heroes, and with his new reggae album, Waiting n Swan (released October 23.) Liebert connects his past and his present, showing that, at heart, reggae and some forms of the flamenco that he loves come from the same root.
“I discovered an interesting connection between flamenco and reggae and recorded an album of songs that combine the Flamenco rhythm called ‘tangos,’ which I believe actually hails from the Caribbean and is Caribbean rather than Arabic in origin,” Liebert explains. “Tangos has a lilt and the same avoidance of beat one that reggae and salsa have, and it sounds very different from all other flamenco forms. Presumably all three of these rhythms, tangos, reggae and salsa, have roots in Africa.”
With his longtime band, Luna Negra, Liebert has sold millions of albums showcasing the sensual side of flamenco and has been nominated five times for Grammy Awards. But he’s never been an artist who sits easily in any pigeonhole, and this release offers him to delve deep into something new.
“Waiting n Swan contains two of my older songs,” Liebert says. “I recorded “Barcelona Nights” and “Heart Still/Beating” back in the 1990s and I’ve wanted to record reggae versions of these songs ever since.”
They sit seamlessly next to the new original “Swan” and the nine Bob Marley songs that Liebert selected for the disc. The music offers him a chance to revisit and pay homage to the most influential musical influence of his teenage years.
“Growing up in the ‘70s Bob Marley and the Wailers were one of my favorite bands. They meant a lot more to me than the Beatles or the Rolling Stones.”
Those feelings are apparent in the passion he brings to his performances of classics like “No Woman No Cry” or “Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)” and his playing captures the romance that lies at the heart of “Is This Love” and “Waiting In Vain.”
This is very much Liebert’s take on Marley, refracted through years of learning about and making music, and developing his own, readily-identifiable sound. And it’s certainly one of the most personal statements in his long discography.
“Melodies are about associations,” Liebert told an interviewer in 2004. “A melody is a mind’s association in regard to a number of chord changes and a specific rhythm. As one gets older one’s associations tend to become more focused and more personal, I feel.”
Liebert’s own involvement with music began when he was 11 and living in Cologne, then part of West Germany, and taking lessons in classical guitar. Three years later he discovered a flamenco LP in a local supermarket and his love of the music was born. The fire began to sizzle when he was 16 and a friend played him the track “Mediterranean Sundance by jazz-fusion guitarist Al Di Meola.
“I asked him to hand me the cover. I had to know who the other guitarist was! That, of course, was Paco De Lucia, and this was the second flamenco spark.”
In 1979 Liebert moved to the U.S., settling in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1986, where he began studying flamenco music with a teacher and honing his sound. His first national release, Nouveau Flamenco, in 1990, helped define an era of instrumental music, going double-platinum in America.
From there his music has grown, incorporating ideas from two of his musical influences, the great Miles Davis and Carols Santana, who’d originally inspired him to come to the U.S.
“I loved their music… so I thought that’s where I want to go,” Liebert said in 2001. “If you listen to Miles, especially the later stuff, there’s an incredible mixture of music from India, from Turkey, from a thousand sources of music there, and the same with Carlos, who mixes Latin music with the blues.”
Now, with Waiting n Swan, he can complete the circle, drawing his teenage self into the present. And that mysterious title?
“The word “waiting” refers, of course, to the song “Waiting in Vain” and the phrase “n Swan” is Caribbean creole meaning ‘and so on,’” Liebert explains.
Everything comes in its own time. Now is right for Ottmar Liebert to explore tangos and reggae. The wait certainly hasn’t been in vain. Don’t miss this opportunity to celebrate our new release!