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Nuevo Flamenco Guitarist Ottmar Liebert Returns To Saban For Saturday Concert

Ottmar Liebert

Posted: Friday, July 31, 2015 – 8:40 PM

Continuing his tradition of combining styles and rhythms, difficult-to-categorize contemporary flamenco guitarist Ottmar Liebert returns to The Saban Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., for an 8 p.m. concert, Saturday.

The concert will be a mixture of songs his area fans have come to love, drawn from his catalogue of original songs on 30 albums, going back to 1990. “But of course it’s a whole new song list” says Liebert.

The concert is divided into two halves. So “act one” features John Gagan on his 100-year-old bass, Chris Steele on the cajon (a box drum), and Liebert on the flamenco guitar he’s played since the ‘70s. Former tours saw him take up the electric guitar but on a European tour this spring, he didn’t even even bring it. “I just felt like concentrating on the flamenco guitar.”

For the second half, Steele switches to a drum kit, “that has to be seen to be believed,” Liebert reports, and Gagan takes up a fretless guitar.

The trio’s been together for the past four years and he’s played with Gagan for 26 years. “This group’s been working together for a while so we’re able to read each other,” reports Liebert. “There’s a lot of improvisation that goes on and that becomes much more fun when you know what the other might do. We have our own vocabulary.”

And the player’s individual solos have become a highlight of the group’s Saban engagements.

The concert will also offer one selection as a tease to Liebert’s latest album set for an October release.

“I discovered a connection between flamenco and reggae and recorded an album of songs that combines the flamenco rhythm called “tangos,” which has nothing to do with the South American form.”

The new album contains two of his older songs Barcelona Nights and Heart Still/Beating that he’s wanted to record reggae versions of since the mid-’90s. and nine songs by Bob Marley—using rhythmic elements from reggae and tangos. “Growing up in the ‘70s Bob Marley and the Wailers were one of my favorite bands and they meant a lot more to me than the Beatles or the Rolling Stones.” Heart Still/Beating has “nothing on beat one,” Liebert points out. “The melody come after, which is a reggae thing to do. I’ve noticed later in life that Bob Marley had a bigger impact on me than I though at the time.”

The Saban night will be one  last round of the popular format his legions of area fans have come to expect. He’s planning next year’s concert to focus on this latest album with “more instrumentation” and a different format.

“I’m really jazzed about the new album,” says Liebert of the recoding he’s been putting the finishing touches on. “The playing is strong and it grooves.”

Doors open at 6 p.m.; and tickets range from $38-$68. For information and to purchase, call 888-645-5006 or visit

—Steve Simmons

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