Espasón is a contemporary flamenco album and the second full-length studio project by US-based flamenco guitarist Gustavo Alonso López.
The recording contains 55 minutes of original composition, traditional cante flamenco, and improvisation. It was performed by an international team of musicians, including Edu Hidalgo of Badajoz, Spain; Diego Villegas of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain; Davide Sampaolo of Rome, Italy; Brian Chin of Seattle, WA; and Steve Schermer of Seattle, WA. It also includes lyrics by flamenco poet José Luis Rodríguez Ojeda of Carmona, Spain.
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From Espasón’s Liner Notes
“The word ESPASÓN derives from the Spanish words for space and sound – ESPACIO and SONIDO. As an artist trained in architecture and music, space and sound are the mediums of my creative work. They are sources of inspiration, means for expression, and vehicles for communication. They also represent tension and struggle. They compete for time and attention, pulling me in different directions and rarely existing in equilibrium. Ultimately, I welcome the tension. I would not be the musician I am without my experience shaping space. I would not be the architect I am without my experience shaping sound. My mediums are interdependent and forever linked.
The seeds for the music recorded here were planted in 2017, when I relocated from the United States to Spain. Prior to this, I was self-taught as a musician, dedicated and thoroughly obsessed. A love of art has always been part of my DNA, but flamenco did something different. It grabbed me hard and did not let go. Before I knew it, I had become a professional musician. After self-producing my first record, Punto Lejano, in 2014, it was clear that a life of music was ahead of me. But, I needed more. My resources for artistic development were being exhausted. I needed more training. I needed to cultivate stronger artistic relationships and permeate flamenco’s deeper meaning and culture. I understood flamenco was not just a musical or dance style. It was an entire life philosophy, value system, and creative universe unto itself.
After many years of hard work and professional sacrifice, I was awarded a Fulbright performing arts fellowship. It gave me my first opportunity for complete immersion into music, and forever changed the trajectory of my life and career. I moved to Sevilla for instrument training with master guitarists and, most critically, to live among the Andalusian people and the culture of flamenco. This time was special, and only deepened my love of the art form and that part of the world. It fortified my sense of commitment and accelerated my development as an artist.
This project started in earnest near the end of 2021, as the world began to emerge from the COVID pandemic. It builds on existing relationships and forges new collaborations with artists I met in Spain. It is a concept album that unfolds gradually and episodically. It was conceived as a single experience with musical encounters that shift dramatically in character. Certain episodes are firmly rooted within flamenco traditions, and others venture into more experimental territory. All tap into specific parts of my musical sensibilities, while also showcasing the artistry of an international team of musicians. The roots of flamenco guitar lie in accompaniment, which plays a central role in my approach to the instrument. The guitar is front and center at certain moments, but also spends considerable time accompanying others and guiding the search for larger, cinematic ensemble sounds.”
Espasón Track Listing:
1. Paso Derecho (Tarantas con Vals Bulerías) – (05:19)
2. A Recorrer (Tientos-Tangos) – (13:18)
3. La Admisión (Soleá de Cádiz) – (09:08)
4. Lesiones (Fandangos Grandes) – (05:39)
5. Invierno Sin Luz: Parte 1, Levantamiento (Composición con Bulerías Lentas) – (05:19)
6. Invierno Sin Luz: Parte 2, Carrera (Bulerías Populares) – (04:10)
7. Invierno Sin Luz: Parte 3, Enfoque Azul (Composición con Bulerías) – (05:21)
8. Invierno Sin Luz: Parte 4, Agotamiento (Bulerías Improvisadas) – (05:18)
9. Eco de Invierno (Rondeña) – (02:11)
Flamenco Guitar: Gustavo Alonso López
Voice: Edu Hidalgo
Clarinet | Harmonica: Diego Villegas
Percussion: Davide Sampaolo
Trumpet: Brian Chin
Double Bass: Steve Schermer
Lyrics: José Luis Rodríguez Ojeda
Musical Direction | Composition | Arrangements | Production: Gustavo Alonso López
Graphic Design: Gustavo Alonso López
Photography: Gustavo Alonso López | Jeremy Wesley
Recording Engineers: Michael Thomas Connolly (Assisted by Jeremy Wesley & Zach Miller) | Empty Sea Studios, Ferndale, WA
Eduardo Rebollar | Artes Escénicas Rebollar, Sevilla, Spain
Ron Haight | Common Tone Productions, Seattle, WA
Mixing Engineer: Michael Thomas Connolly | Empty Sea Studios, Ferndale, WA
Mastering Engineer: Rachel Field | Resonant Mastering, Seattle, WA
About Gustavo Alonso López
Gustavo Alonso López is a North American flamenco guitarist located in Walla Walla, WA. His music is grounded in traditional flamenco and incorporates elements of jazz, classical, and world music. His fascination with music and the guitar began early, and he picked up the instrument in earnest at the age of 19. Starting on electric guitar, his focus switched to flamenco after a few years. His initial curiosity towards flamenco quickly became a full-fledged obsession, as he was enamored with the strength, depth, and complexity of the art form.
In spring of 2014, he independently recorded Punto Lejano, a full-length studio album, at Empty Sea Studios in Seattle, WA. The album was performed by a 6-piece, instrumental ensemble and consists of four long-form pieces.
In 2017, Gustavo was awarded a Fulbright performing arts fellowship to pursue intensive instrument training in Sevilla, Spain, at the Fundacion Cristina Heeren de Arte Flamenco. Here he deepened his knowledge of flamenco under the tutelage of master guitarists Pedro Sierra, Pedro Barragán, and Paco Cortés. As part of his Fulbright work, Gustavo launched Palabras Flamencas (Flamenco Words) in early 2018, a website presenting a collection of interviews with Spanish flamenco artists and members of the international flamenco community. After Fulbright, he continued his studies of flamenco with maestro Eduardo Rebollar of Artes Escénicas Rebollar.
In 2022, Gustavo commenced work on his second studio album, Espasón, which includes an international team of collaborators from the United States, Italy, and Spain. Espasón was also recorded at Empty Sea Studios and was released in July of 2023 via Common Tone Records.
Gustavo’s musical references include Paco de Lucía, Pepe Habichuela, Manolo Sanlúcar, Tomatito, Sabicas, Rafael Riqueni, and Miguel Ángel Cortés. He is also a fan of jazz, classical, rock, and world music. He enjoys playing with artists from these different traditions. Born and raised in Twin Falls, ID, he has lived many places throughout the United States and abroad. Las Vegas, NV; Turin, Italy; St. Louis, MO; Barcelona, Spain; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Seattle, WA; Sevilla, Spain; and Austin, TX, have all been called home at one time or another. Gustavo supports his artistic practice with his work as an architect.
Artist website: www.studioespason.com