In a six-decade career, David Broza has recorded a handful of instrumentals over the course of 34 albums. Now, with en Casa Limón, he’s taken a huge leap, writing and recording an entire album of music for Spanish nylon-string guitar, much of it solo and all of it astonishingly good. Produced by Madrid’s Javier Limón, who first made his name producing nuevo flamenco, the album is deliciously romantic, richly colored by memories of Broza’s teenage years in Spain and by his love for the old masters of classical guitar.
Some pieces, like “Bulería,” with its handclap percussion (palmas) and rapid-fire hammer-ons, are clearly rooted in flamenco, while others, like “Tom’s Song,” begin in a stately, rich Baroque feel that evolves into the present with modern arpeggios, tempo shifts, and a wash of soprano descant. With Antonio Serrano playing a smooth, lilting harmonica lead, “Too Old to Die Young” straddles European jazz and pop, recalling more than one ’60s film soundtrack, while the finger-snapping “I’ll Never Ride a Horse Again” swings with all the guitar-and-violin grace of Django Reinhardt, Stéphane Grappelli, and the Hot Club of France.
At their best, these tunes can be as complex as “Autumn Longing,” a solo that balances sweet past and sad present, and the single “Tears for Barcelona,” weighted with an ebb and flow of tragedy and hopefulness in the interplay of guitar and string quartet. Taken together, these 12 cuts are an immensely ambitious undertaking, three years in the making, a profoundly moving experiment that succeeds on every level.