Lara & Reyes Navidad (Higher Octave)
Reviewed by Christopher Hess, Fri., Dec. 22, 2000
Lara & Reyes
Navidad (Higher Octave)The new release from San Antonio-based acoustic duo Lara & Reyes would seem to offer an enticing new take on the standard set of Christmastime classics. The two are known for their rousing live shows, where they conjure fast and fiery Latin jazz from a pair of acoustic flamenco guitars. So it's surprising to hear how straight they play these songs. Everything from "Winter Wonderland" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" to "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" appears on this album, and while Lara & Reyes succeed in producing gorgeous, tradition-bound renditions of each and every song, they also fail to make the songs their own -- to add anything significant to the already lengthy list of those who have come before. Lara & Reyes are nimble, talented, disciplined guitarists, and their treatments of tunes such as "Angels We Have Heard on High" and even "Auld Lang Syne" are beautiful, lively takes. But outside a quickening of the blood on these two songs and a somewhat rote stroll through "Feliz Navidad" (the only title that even hints at Christmas south of the border), the spirit here is more an all-purpose holiday one than anything inspired by the singular talents of this accomplished jazz duo.