Arts, Culture & Media

Global Hit

You can hear a little jazz, a little bossa nova, a little New Age and a LOT of flamenco in today's Global Hit.

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The World's Ken Bader tells us about a travelin' man named Ottmar Liebert.

Liebert was born in Germany. He moved to Boston 30 years ago. And he now makes his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

So how did the son of a Chinese-German father and a Hungarian mother end up playing flamenco?

Ottmar Liebert: ?Well, how did Eric Clapton end up play the blues??

Ottmar Liebert: ?In this day and age, things just cross boundaries, and you do what you are called to or what you just have some kind of a connection with. And for me, it was flamenco. I started playing classical guitar when I was 11. And, so, flamenco is sort of the rock 'n' roll of classical guitar.?

Snakecharmer-Binaural (2007) from Ottmar Liebert on Vimeo.

Ottmar Liebert has always been a traveler. He traversed Europe and Asia as a child. And he continues to perform around the world. Listen to his music, and you can hear where he's been.

In fact, seven of the 10 compositions on Liebert's most recent album contain the names of the places that inspired them in the titles.

For example, "Streetlight (Marseille, August 1999)" evokes the ambiance of the French city.

Morning Light from Ottmar Liebert on Vimeo.

Ottmar Liebert: ?When I hear the music, I actually see an older Marseilles with street lights, people smoking, the cobblestones wet, reflecting light, and, to me, that just sort of comes in there.?

Ottmar Liebert is not out to dazzle you with his playing. He wants to have a conversation. And he's sensitive to the challenge of speaking to you through his guitar.

Ottmar Liebert: ?The guitar has the same danger that people face with the piano: there is no breath in it. And a lot of guitar players and piano players play without that breath. And so they can just go on and on and on and on, and that's not how we hear. The average person can hear melodies of about seven or eight notes, and they can't hold more in their memory. So, if you want to do modern classical music or bebop, where melodies can go on for 30, 40, 50, or more notes, the uninitiated will not really hear it. And so the breath is really a good length of what can go across.?

In other words, if it's flash you want, Ottmar Liebert is not your man.

Soundcheck Prelude from Ottmar Liebert on Vimeo.

Ottmar Liebert: ?To me, the guitar is not an Olympic event. And, I think, to me, the melody is always at the forefront, is the most important part. And, to this day, that's probably what most of my playing is about.?

Guitarist Ottmar Liebert and his band, Luna Negra, open a six-night stand at the Blue Note in New York tomorrow night.

His summer touring schedule will take him up and down the west coast and over to Colorado and Texas.

For The World, I'm Ken Bader.

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