Rodrigo Y Gabriela, "11:11"
There was a slight novelty aspect to the way the Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo Y Gabriela dazzled listeners on their self-titled second album in 2006. The pair's guitar chops were undeniable, but flashy versions of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" and Metallica's "Orion" obscured the broader array of fleet-fingered virtues the duo brought to the table. Not so on "11:11," which is more sophisticated, flowing and diverse. The 11-track set loosely pays tribute to other string players, obviously in some cases (the nod to Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile" in "Buster Voodoo") and more subtly in others, such as the Paco De Lucia echoes of "Master Maqui," with guests Strunz & Farah. Testament's Alex Skolnick brings electric fire on "Atman," an Arabic-flavored homage to the late guitarist Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott, and light hints of piano add to the textures of the John Leckie-produced title track. "11:11" is another winning showcase of exotic instrumental brilliance. --Gary Graff