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AN AURAL SMORGASBORD. What do you get when you mix such oddball musical influences as Jimi Hendrix, flamenco and classical guitar, contemporary jazz, classical Indian music, Middle Eastern vibes, Latin tango and even a dash of old-school punk?

You get the fiery intensity of Incendio.

I'm listening to their 2001 CD Illumination as I write this--blasting from my speakers, as I think Incendio is meant to be heard. Each strain can be pulled out from the whole, but why try? I may have to stop writing periodically to get up and dance, gyrate or generally just swirl through my space. That's just what Incendio's music begs you to do.

"The music we play is a distillation of all our influences," says guitarist Jean-Pierre Durand, in a recent phone conversation where we talked endlessly, almost circularly, about musical genres and how they make their way into Incendio's sound.

"XTC is one of my favorite bands," admits Durand. I can hear him grinning.

Since 1999, Durand has joined fellow Spanish guitarist Jim Stubblefield, his own wife Liza Carbé--who plays bass--and drummer Joe Shotwell in a group that has been compared to a meeting between the Gypsy Kings and the Mahavishnu Orchestra.

"It's double-faceted, our influences. In my case, there's a ton of rock and blues and then all that Latin music I listened to as a kid." Durand hails from Peru. The group is, for the most part, now based smack in the middle of one of Los Angeles' ubiquitous valleys. Durand and Carbé run their own production studio there, composing music for Entertainment Tonight and other television gigs as well as coalescing the sounds of many local bands.

"There's an economy of notes, a notion of space, timing and emotion in our music. Without vocals, the guitar becomes the voice. We have a story to tell without words," says Durand.

Certainly, the interplay of all the instruments provides the intensity of energy. "I hope we express the melancholy without being maudlin," Durand says of Incendio's sound. "Generally, it's just joyful music."

They dub themselves Latin Guitar World Fusion. "This is to distinguish us from Nuevo Flamenco or some other established genre," explains Durand.

He says it's not really that difficult for audiences to understand the interdisciplinary nature of the music. "People are far more willing to be open. It's just difficult logistically sometimes with packaging. We're too intense for smooth jazz stations to play us and too experimental for triple-A stations." (Those are the ones that play adult alternative acoustic genres.)

"Ironically, it's the skate kids that are now digging us. Obviously, we're cutting a wide swath."

The members of Incendio seem to just play their hearts out and deal with whatever reactions prevail.

"You have to buck the trends and overcome the critical attitudes. Our collective backgrounds make this easy. We're not purists at all. Jim comes with a fusion and progressive jazz background but also played for two years with the Kuwaiti singer and instrumentalist Waleed Hamad. Liza was classically trained on the guitar and on voice, but also played with Lindsey Buckingham and Vixen. Joe recently drummed behind Monty Python troupe member Eric Idle, but his tabla playing is one of his greatest strengths."

And Durand's just as comfortable blasting a Jimi Hendrix riff as he is threading a techno-trance or Celtic or rock theme through an Incendio track.

Possibly because the group members are so heavily influenced by non-jazz traditions, it hasn't prejudiced anyone to one genre.

"We definitely rip a page from Ani DiFranco and her self-stylizing, self-production and get-out-on-the-road ethic," explains Durand.

"We did 125 shows this year. With my old-school punk background, getting in the van and going on the road isn't that difficult, but neither is doing production, designing the CDs or generally just being control freaks."

The tours have mainly been in the West--in this country only. Durand says that's merely a financial restraint. But he's hoping that with their recent signing with New World, a record label out of England, perhaps they'll be sponsored to come for a visit. Incendio has distributed on its own label, Incendio Music, as well as on Paras. With their upcoming September release of their self-titled CD, they're hoping the New Age label helps them further their sound into new audiences in Europe and Australia.

And I think my cat's enjoying the polyrhythmic swirl of their newest CD, Intimo. She's "singing" along with the whirlwind of boleros, cumbias and indigenous Peruvian valses criollos. Her squeaky meow meets up with the Indian, Arabic and Celtic strains. She's no longer sitting quietly in her chair.

Apparently, audiences at Incendio's concerts also have difficulty staying seated.

Incendio blazes their guitar inferno on Saturday, July 12, at 8 p.m., at the indoor stage of the historic Hacienda del Sol, located at 5601 N. Hacienda del Sol Drive. Tickets cost $12 in advance and $15 at the door and are available at Antigone Books, Brew & Vine, CD City, Enchanted Earthworks or at www.dotucson.com/tickets. Call for more information on the Rhythm & Roots concert series at 297-9133.

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