Volver a la Tierra by Benavides and Wolf … Sometimes “World” music is where you least expect it… even in your own backyard. I was pleasantly surprised when I heard Spanish music coming to me from Asheville, NC from Juan Benavides and our very own staff writer Jake Wolf.
The music of Spain is rich in heritage, as it draws from it’s Moorish roots and has evolved into the Flamenco style we presently enjoy. The simple combination of Spanish guitar and six-string electric bass is nothing less than brilliant in it’s simplicity, and yet is ornately complex. Both Benavides and Wolf have ample opportunity to shine as individuals and yet complement each other in a way that kept my absolute attention track-after-track.
Juan Bateman Benavides was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia and established residency in the US in 1984. He completed degrees in fine arts, but decided to pursue a career in music. His interest in Flamenco took him to Spain to study under the master Gerardo Nunez. Not only does Juan create musical visions, but he is also a very talented painter and artist.
Jake Wolf hails from outside of Boston and ended up in North Carolina by way of the Great Northwest and the San Francisco Bay area. Jake got his degree in music in Washington State, and later studied under Kai Eckardt and Michael Manring in California. Along with being a musician, he works as a hospice home care nurse and writes and reviews gear for Bass Musician Magazine.
Now that we know the musicians, it is probably good to point out that they have been performing and recording together for over five years. The absolute fluidity of the two instruments together can only come from hours of each finding their respective balance. There is a fullness to this combination that is quite complete. There is harmony, precise soloing, percussive Latin tempos, colorful progressions and highly refined artistry.
The majority of the pieces were written by Benavides, with the last track being a composition by Wolf. Each track is unique and elicits distinctive images as you listen. They are entirely instrumental, but no lyrics are needed to convey the intent of the musicians.
Perhaps the many years I spent in Latin America influences my sensitivity to this music, but it really speaks to me. My mind travels to the far reaches of what was at one time the Spanish realm and I am carried equally back to the Caribbean as I am to northern New Mexico.
Let me invite you to experience this fine music and take a Spanish voyage of your very own. If you have never heard this kind of music, I am confident that you will want more from this talented duo from North Carolina, after quite a magical listening experience.
Excellent work Juan and Jake!