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January/February 2004

Oscar Lopez
My Destiny
Narada Media

Smooth jazz has long had its "fiery Latin" subgenre, further broken into two camps: the soft-groove stylings popularized by Marc Antoine and the traditional leanings of Ottmar Liebert. Canadian-by-way-of-Chile nylon-stringed guitarist Oscar Lopez falls into the latter camp, which he again displays on his fifth CD, My Destiny (Mi Destino) (Narada). Lopez is joined by his road band: Manuel Jara on rhythm guitar, Hugh McMillan on electric bass, pedal-steel guitar and mandolin and Raphael Geronimo on percussion. So what is Lopez's destiny? It appears to be to combine his passionate and frenzied guitar runs with heartfelt ballads while crossing over into several musical styles. "Out of My Hands" is a breezy ballad countrified by the decidedly American sound of steel guitar. "Soaring the Andes" chunka-chunkas along with a faint reggae beat, while "Rumaniando"'s rapid pace could be added to the mix at any big, fat Greek wedding. Lopez's artistry is unquestioned-he wrote all the songs here-and his undeniable skill with a guitar reveals such sweet music, whether he's bending notes on "Guitarra Guitarra" or racing down the frets on the lovely "Dancing With You." Bravo.

Originally published in January/February 2004
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