Virtuoso guitar player Ottmar Liebert is a platinum-selling recording artist who sparked a world music revival in the early nineties with the release of his groundbreaking debut Nouveau Flamenco, and currently stands as one of the world's most popular and compelling instrumental performers. With over twelve years of tireless touring and fourteen studio recordings, Liebert can trace his incredible success to both his cultural background and the meandering course of his career, as well as to his love for music itself.
Born to a Chinese-German father and Hungarian mother in Cologne, he picked up a guitar at age eleven, studied classical guitar through his teens, and at eighteen set off on a series of journeys throughout Europe and Asia, surveying the traditional music of various cultures before seeking an outlet for these crucial experiences in the Western pop forms of the late 1970s and early 80s.
After an unsatisfying stint in Germany with a jazz-funk band, Liebert answered the call of his popular heroes—Miles Davis, Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix, John McLaughlin—and came to the United States, settling first in Boston (where he played with another jazz-funk combo while making ends meet as a bike messenger), and then in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1986.
It was in Santa Fe's laid-back multicultural arts scene that Liebert finally felt liberated from the need to "make it" in the music business, and began pursuing a more personal agenda. Upon a chance encounter with an odd trio of musicians in a restaurant (a classical violinist, a flamenco guitarist, and a banjo player), Liebert took to studying flamenco and soon began to distill the centuries-old style into a dynamic, contemporary sound. This amalgamation was brought to life by the formation of his new band Luna Negra in 1988, and would soon take the world by storm with Nouveau Flamenco, released by Higher Octave Music in 1989.
While Liebert confesses to having been perfectly happy playing his modern derivation of the southern Spanish art form in the stuccoed hotels and ristra-covered eateries of Santa Fe, within a year's time he was opening for Miles Davis and receiving letters from fans in Europe, South America, Australia, and Asia. Indeed, it speaks to the international appeal of his musical voice that he has not willingly pigeon-holed himself as "just" a traditional Flamenco player.
With the help of an opening stint for Basia on her 1989/90 tour, Nouveau Flamenco peaked at #3 on Billboard's Adult Alternative chart and #1 on the New Age chart (where it was followed by 1990's Poets & Angels and the Grammy-nominated Borrasca in 1991).
In 1992, Liebert signed to Epic records and released Solo Para Ti, which featured a cameo by Santana. After opening for Natalie Cole throughout her 1992 Unforgettable tour, Luna Negra took off on an extensive European and South American jaunt, after which Liebert broadened his compositional pallet with reinterpretations of soul and blues standards (The Hours Between Night And Day, 1993), a collection of dance remixes (Euphoria, 1995), classical orchestration (Leaning into the Night, 1997), and a stab at classic rock staples by the likes of Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones (Little Wing, 2001).
Liebert returned to Higher Octave Music in 2002 to put forth In the Arms of Love, an album of lullabies written for children, followed by The Santa Fe Sessions in 2003. His most recent release, Nouveaumatic, ventures even further into postmodern sonic territory, incorporating world beat, dance rhythms, synthesizer and ambient sounds.