Rodrigo Y Gabriela and C.U.B.A. Area 52

I have to congratulate this duo for making an astute move. Working with musical director/pianist Alex Wilson and producer Peter Asher has placed Rodrigo y Gabriela's music in another realm. Wilson contributes brilliant orchestral arrangements and soaks Rodrigo y Gabriela's previously released material in Cuban salsa and jazz while still leaving space for the duo's trademark guitar riffs and melodies. I had heard "Diablo Rojo" before and appreciated the main melody ― repetitive but good nonetheless. In Area 52, it is refreshed and transformed by a montuno intro, with explosive and tight brass throughout, complemented by the sweetness of violin and flute melodies. "Ixtapa" is another Latin-jazz musical treat, with an impeccable sitar solo played by none other than Anoushka Shankar. "11:11" did it for me, as I am a big fan of Spain's Carles Benavent and odd time signatures. Is this Rodrigo y Gabriela's new direction? I sure hope so. (Rubyworks)