Album Title: Cante | Orquestra
Performer: Miguel Poveda, Chicuelo, Joan Albert Amargos
Label: Singulars Peralada
Running time
: 54'41"

Flamenco with symphony orchestra has only a few but at that, glorious precedents. Vicente Amigo's Poeta, Juan Carmona's Sinfonia Flamenco come to mind, certain cuts by Manolo Sanlucar, El Lebrijano and Camaron de la Isla. But complete symphonic fusions are rare. To these few we can now add Cante | Orquestra led by the groundbreaking singer Miguel Poveda and accompanied by La Simfonietta Porta Ferrada and La Tangencial Taller De Musics.

Since his precocious debut at the annual Miner's Lamp Competition, Poveda' s career has included many genre-expanding efforts. One of the most unconventional surely has been the collaboration with Quawwali Faiz Ali Faiz which included compatriot cantaor Duquende and the fiery guitar of the excellent arranger Chicuelo.

Perhaps not surprisingly then, the present release teams the singer with the same Flamenco guitarist whilst the leadership of the orchestral forces falls on Joan Albert Amargos, another previous Poveda collaborator. Culled from various live performances to make for spotty recording quality but heightened atmospherics and tension, this Flamenco fusion album is the first I know of which, front to back, doesn't spotlight a guitarist but singer. One might fear for intelligibility since it's only operatic training that prepares vocalists to overpower an orchestra. Yet modern microphone techniques balance out that questionable equation in favor of Miguel.

While Django Reinhardt attempted it but didn't fully manage (that is, to establish the Jazz Manouche guitar as a Big Band soloist) and Camaron de la Isla died far too young to do it for Flamenco vocals and orchestra, it might be Poveda who helps secure this hybrid format as a new art form. It will require commissions to compose further works and regular concertizing in suitable venues to formally establish it but, the seeds have been sown. If they flower as one prays, the present album could well end up in the annals as the one that helped lay the foundation. On numerous fronts then, it's a landmark recording that looks to past and future both. Don't get it for the recording quality. Get it for everything else.