Flamenco guitarist Ottmar Liebert says the spiritual connection between the mind and body isn't necessarily a one-way street.
"Here in the Western world, people believe that the mind teaches the body to move," Liebert said by phone from his home in Santa Fe, N.M. "But I have found that sometimes the body teaches the brain. For example, a few years ago, I was in Italy for five weeks. I remembered that I was supposed to perform a concert two weeks after my trip to Italy. So I made arrangements for my guitar to be shipped to Italy. But found out, through some miscommunications, that it would cost me $5,000 to ship my guitar overseas.
"So I didn't do it. And I was a little nervous when I returned home and picked up my guitar to prepare to play the concert. Never in my life have I been away from my guitar for more than a few days. So five weeks was unheard of. But when I started playing, I found that my body was acting faster than my brain. I wasn't thinking of the notes as much as I was playing them first."
Liebert's dealings with abstracts and existentialism has only grown since he became something akin to a Buddhist monk after studying in Salt Lake City's Kanzeon Zen Center last year.
The guitarist, who was raised Catholic, decided the church wasn't for him and began meditating when he was 15. Since then, his path over several years eventually led him to Dennis Genpo Merzel Roshi, a master of Zen. "I met him in February 2004 and asked him to be my teacher in August of that year," said Liebert. "Then in 2006, I became what some would call a monk."
During those two years of study, Liebert also developed the basis for what would become his solo-guitar album "One Guitar." "When Genpo Roshi would come to Santa Fe, I would play acoustic performances for the event, and it felt good to do. So I played with the idea of playing solo concerts with hundreds of random pictures as a visual enhancer.
Liebert was used to playing with a flamenco band, and said that his first acoustic concert was a little scary. "The show started at 8 p.m. and I looked at the clock at 7:58 p.m., wondering if the audience and I would like the experience. The next time I looked at the clock, it was 9:15 p.m., and I took that as an indication that the solo concert was somewhat a success."
So, Liebert began recording his solo guitar and posting the tunes online (www.listenlounge.com). "I got a lot of feedback and decided to keep doing it. It was really a new way to test out some new recording equipment. I figured with a band, you couldn't tell much different, but with a solo, acoustic, flamenco guitar, there could be some things you could hear differently. So that's how this all began.""One Guitar," which was recorded with no overdubs, was released in June. "It was done in the moment. Maybe 70 percent of the album was improvised. And I'm looking forward to bringing my guitar and my laptop that has all those pictures to Utah."
If you go . . .
What: Ottmar Liebert
Where: The Memorial House, Memory Grove,485 N. Canyon Road (120 East)
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
How much: $35
Web: www.genpo.orgAlso: Friday, Alta Club, 7 p.m., $100 (328-8414)
E-mail: [email protected]