Tuesday, Feb. 3; Popejoy Hall (all ages, 7:30 p.m.): Even the most gifted artistic genius, it is believed, will one day find his or her well run dry. The technique and desire remain, but there comes a time when all such artists must accept that their creative spark has burned out, right? Don't be so sure. Flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia, regarded the world over as the master of that particular art, is one of the rare ones: a brilliant musician who continues to move forward in spite of conventional thinking.
De Lucia's latest release, Cositas Buenas (Verve), is proof positive. Here, de Lucia eschews several signatures associated with previous masterworks in exchange for a more deeply personal approach that is affecting in an entirely new way. Gone is the sextet with whom de Lucia has recorded and toured for the past decade. What remains for the most part is de Lucia himself, and his guitar. His astonishing technique remains intact, as do his trademark bold explorations. But other than a couple of guest vocalists and palmas (handclaps), Cositas Buenas is a revealing musical excursion by a rare genius.
As usual, de Lucia's compositions (six of eight of Cositas Buenas' tracks are originals) are expansive, texturally rich and impossibly precise. And where he was once derided for what was then considered brash experimentalism, de Lucia is now generally applauded for furthering the flamenco genre far more than any other artist. De Lucia perfectly exemplifies the notion that there are always forward steps to take.
One would expect that music as intensely complex as de Lucia's wouldn't quite translate in the live setting, but the opposite is true. Flamenco is a living entity that thrives on energy generated by the audience as much as the performers. Live, de Lucia is an undeniable miracle regardless of whether he chooses to play solo or with an ensemble.