Duo Flamenco's debut CD, "Verde," will be released this week. The full-length album is the culmination of four years of work by guitarist and vocalist Grant Ruiz and percussionist Terry Longshore. The CD was recorded by Sean McCoy at Sullivan Recording in Medford during two nights of live sessions by the duo.
"It was pretty intense, but it was cool because it was a live session," says Ruiz. "Meaning we didn't do our tracks individually; we sat down (in) line of sight."
Ruiz and Longshore will celebrate the release of "Verde" with two shows Friday, June 3, in Ashland. They'll perform at 7:15 p.m. at an Oregon Shakespeare Festival Green Show and again at 9 p.m. at Tease, 303 E. Main St., Ashland. Admission to the performances is free: The CD will be available for $15. Flamenco dancer Monica Morales will join the duo for the performance at Tease.
"Verde" is a collection of straight-ahead, traditional flamenco influenced by Ruiz's and Longshore's trips to Spain where they studied the genre from its source.
"When you're around it, it's more than just what the rhythm is. It's how it's played," says Longshore. "Its more than the words; it's the accent or the inflection."
Classically trained, Ruiz formed a flamenco study group a few years ago in Ashland. Longshore, professor of percussion in Southern Oregon University's music department, joined the group after some of his students gave him a cajon. Together, they soon found their sound.
"We just formed this nucleus right away," says Ruiz. "He was like latching onto everything I would play, and boom, we had a two-hour repertoire. We realized we could go out and play some gigs."
Longshore's percussion instrument, the cajon, was developed by African slaves working in the shipyards of Peru. They'd build the instruments from empty, wooden crates.
"In 1979, the cajon was adopted into flamenco by guitarist Paco De Lucia," says Longshore. "He was touring South America and brought one back to Spain. It became the ubiquitous percussion instrument of flamenco."
The inception of "Verde" came about over the past six months, mostly in response to requests for recorded music from Duo Flamenco fans.
"I think it really does represent our live sound," says Ruiz. "I think the people who have asked us for it will be happy with that."
"Verde" means green in Spanish and is said to be the color of unfulfilled longing, according to Spanish poet Frederico Garcia Lorca.
"It's also the first word in the first song, but the song is somewhat emblematic," says Ruiz.
Ashland graphic designer Bruce Bayard created the cover art for "Verde."
"The artwork is evocative of that part of Spain where flamenco comes from," Longshore says.
The album also will be available from iTunes.