Stephen Duros

"As a kid my family took me to Egypt and Greece -- one side of my family is from Greece, way back a couple of generations -- and that kind of an experience comes in to play even now," says Stephen Duros. "I was probably 10 at the time and the atmosphere of those monuments and ruins made a huge impact."

It certainly did. Ancestral lines and dream classicism. If you check out Stephen's recent CD "Thira" (SSRI 2006) you can hear the Mediterranean vibe behind the techno/gitano orchestration. "Romanticism and the call of history, lost civilizations, dream chambers and the effigies of Kings," is how Culture Court describes the sonic impressionism of this superb album. "And while the synth textures & backgrounds make this CD nuevo, it's the call and response between the flamenco guitar & the oud that set the mindscapes way back in ancient history."

Stephen Duros 07

|| Stephen Duros, nuevo flamenco guitarist. Born in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, 1975. Early on, he showed a precocious interest in everything musical. Keyboard lessons at 6, and soon after that, drums. By 10 he was competing annually in the Yamaha National Keyboard Festival, placing 1st locally and when he was 13, 4th nationally.

Always open to new ideas & sounds, Steve used his winnings to buy an electric guitar... which quickly became his favorite instrument. "The minute I felt that fret board, I was hooked," he says. During the teen years he formed various rock bands, developed his skills composing and arranging original material and performing in front of audiences.

But after hearing acoustic masters such as Paco De Lucia and Ottmar Liebert and Luna Negra, the influence of flamenco guitar drew him to experiment with Spanish/Latin, Jazz and New Age Music. Where did this lead? To the magic of Luna Negra, eventually. "It's unbelievable that 10 years later I now find myself playing in Ottmar Liebert's band," says SD. "It was a dream of mine but I never expected it to happen."

Perhaps it was fate, or just some fantastic synchronicity. While he initially went to L.A. to pursue his academic career and check out the music scene, it wasn't long before he was introduced to the guitarist Paco Arroyo, a master of Flamenco duende, who became a strong and valuable mentor.

"I went to check out some clubs in LA and met some players who suggested that I talk with Paco Arroyo who lives in Glendale, CA," says SD. "So I called him up and started studying with him. It was a serious eye-opening experience for learning flamenco rumba rhythms and other techniques. Paco, yeah... those sessions made an enormous difference in my playing."

SD records with Simon Phillips

"When I first started lighting with Toto, I happened to show one of the crew guys my music. One day with out me knowing he happened to play it for band. Later at a show in Salt Lake City, Simon approached me backstage and said that he'd like to record me at his home studio. I was very excited about the opportunity.

"I learned how to be very particular about the tracks I was recording. How to make finished professional tracks and not just demos. I loved his attention to detail in every way. I learned how to be a better player with rhythm, timing and how to listen carefully to certain instruments and lock in with them. Mike Porcaro came in and played bass on the track "Cirrus" as well. I was very impressed how Simon worked around the studio, not only being a legend in the drum world, but also writing and playing keyboard parts to engineering and mixing."

During this formative time, Stephen paid the bills by doing lighting design for various artists and nightclubs in Hollywood. Hollywood... a very good place for a young artist in his early twenties to be. And he got lucky again when he met the legendary drummer Simon Phillips (Jack Bruce, Pete Townesend, Toto, et. al.) who offered to record him. "We recorded two songs together in Simon's home studio," says SD. "It was an amazing learning experience for me... I was like a sponge soaking up all the knowledge." Not only did Phillips play but also there was some heavy lifting from renowned bassist Mike Porcaro of Toto.

Stephen was now moving a long way away from those Elysian days playing his flamenco on his grand father's large ranch in the Ozark Mountains. Occasional gigs at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey with his friend Dan Sistos doing originals and stretch jams of occasional Luna Negra requests was a good preparation for what was to happen next -- a chance encounter in 2004 with Ottmar Liebert in the parking lot of the Key Club after the maestro had just finished a gig.

"He gave me his first CD and I liked it," says OL. "When we lost our longtime LD (we worked with him 1994-2004) we called Stevo and he was willing to jump right in and tour with us. He did all the lighting for the Winter Rose tour with the string quartet and brought his guitar along. We jammed a bit and I really liked his groove and asked him to join the band. I also offered him a deal with SSRI. After the Winter Rose tour he started recording "Thira" in January of 2006."

encountering Ottmar Liebert

"Ottmar asked to hear the music I had recorded. So I sent him the music and some coffee that I got from Indonesia. I didn't have any expectations... well maybe that coffee was better than I thought.

"When I was in Europe that summer with Toto, I got an e-mail saying that he would like to put my music up on the Luna Negra Listening Lounge and that they would also like to consider having me to play rhythm guitar in his band. I was in the Netherlands at the time and won't ever forget that moment... I had chills running down my back."

These days? Stephen closed out 2006 with a Luna Negra tour of New Zealand and Australia, playing in some of those elegant old theatres you find in cities like Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. "It was a great experience," says Stephen. "I photographed everything. What a journey!" And next? March 2007 Stephen is off to Europe with Toto, working as a videographer for their forthcoming DVD.

CC mp3 tracks by Stephen Duros:


Stephen Duros: B-roll shooter

Stephen Duros CDs & tracks at the SSRI Listening Lounge »»

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