World Music Central, Album Review >>
By ARomero – April 26, 2012
Ride (independent, 2012)
Caramelo is an American band from New York City, composed of musicians and flamenco dancers inspired by Spanish flamenco hybrids as well as R&B, alt rock, and Latin American beats. Ride features Sara Erde’s vocals in English and Spanish as well as flamenco singer Alfonso Cid (“La Luna”).
The best cuts in this short album are the pieces that feature a deeper flamenco essence: ‘The girl is gone’, ‘Como quieres’, and ‘La Luna’.
Vocalist Sara was raised in Brooklyn (New York). Despite years of intensive training and professional performance in flamenco, Erde still felt she had much to learn. So she headed to Sevilla, one of the cradles of flamenco, and spent six years there learning the venerable art form. “I had to find a way that felt organic and reconciled all my different artistic loves,” says Erde. “I kept wondering how I could make it mine, so I didn’t feel I was playing a role.”
Guitarist Jed Miley had a similar experience. After the accidental purchase of a flamenco guitar, Miley got deeper into flamenco. “It grows as an obsession with you. Flamenco is so deep and complicated that you can keep finding new layers,” Miley reflects. “I was drawn to guitar music, then you discover the dancing and singing.” Miley also traveled to Sevilla, where he studied guitar with some of the city’s most revered teachers.”
“I was in Spain and thought, ‘I love flamenco so much, but I have to recognize where I come from,’” Miley notes. “That’s how I got into Caramelo. I’m not a purist, though I love pure flamenco, but I knew I had to integrate all the other interests and influences that I have.”
“In flamenco, people always sing about the neighborhood they are from,” Erde adds. “That authenticity, that sense of place is so important. That’s the starting point for our music.”
Erde and Miley met in New York City and decided to mix flamenco with other musical forms, as young musicians in Spain have been doing for the past 20-30 years. The duo added a violinist, a conservatory-trained accordion maestro from Ukraine, and a jazz bassist/percussionist.
“We have a great rapport on stage, because we’ve been playing flamenco together for so long. There’s a thing about playing this kind of music together: you can anticipate what someone is thinking,” Erde describes. “And as a choreographer, I felt we could adapt the flamenco model and have dance be an integral part of Caramelo. Flamenco dance is embodiment of the music. We incorporate dance with our music in a similar way.”
“There are so many ways to express that intangible quality, that swing or soul or duende, that little detail about a person that makes them artistically interesting,” clarifies Caramelo guitarist Jed Miley. “There are these invisible and unique qualities prized in flamenco, and there’s no real way to describe them, but that’s what we strive for.”
“Duende is a force that comes through you if you’re doing art in the right way,” says Sara Erde, dancer, singer, and songwriter with the group. “That’s what possesses you. That’s what makes people say olé.”
The album will be available on June 2nd, 2012. 04/26/12 >> go there