Tomas Michaud is an acoustic nylon-string instrumental guitarist who plays with a Latin-tinge, writes memorable melodies and works with a top-notch band. All of this is exemplified on his seventh and latest CD, Beauty and Fire, which is indeed beautiful and gently-fiery (very warm arrangements and hot percussion).
Michaud, who has performed on-stage and recorded with fellow Latin guitarist Johannes Linstead, grew up emulating Carlos Santana on electric guitar before switching to acoustic. Michaud admits to being inspired by so-called nouveau-flamenco artists such as the Gipsy Kings from France and Ottmar Liebert from Santa Fe, New Mexico (originally from Germany). Michaud is from California, but has traveled the world extensively, especially Latin countries where he has studied different styles and rhythms.
Michaud works with first-class musicians on this recording, especially two world-class bassists with top credits -- regular bassist David Margen (Santana, Grateful Dead, Joe Walsh, Herbie Hancock) and fretless bassist Kai Eckhardt (John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham, and a recording artist in his own right). Co-producer Don Turney (Joe Harnell) adds grand piano and keyboards. Some of the other musicians also deserve a shout-out: drummer Thomas Perry (Flametal, Lost Ticket), percussionist Brian Rice (Wake the Dead, Mike Marshall & Choro Famoso), violinist Lila Sklar (Bauhaus, Gypsy Caravan), cellist Michael Knapp (Silvia Nakkach, Paul McCandless), and drummer (on one tune) Celso Alberti (Steve Winwood, Craig Chaquico).
Margen shows he is an incredibly solid and inventive bassist on four tunes such as “Tribute” and “Night Into Day (After the Storm).” However, Eckhardt, by playing the fluid, flowing fretless bass, adds a whole other dimension to the four tunes he plays on -- the title tune, the ballad “Morning Grace,” “Gipsy Heart” and the melodic “Tango in Paradise.”
Beyond the technical proficiencies of Michaud and his band, the other thing that stands out when listening to this music is that his playing is quite heartfelt, passionate (but not in an overly-aggressive way) and positive in feeling. This is not something that can be faked. There are deep feelings behind the notes Tomas Michaud plays. Hear the beauty and feel the fire.