The music made by Ottmar Liebert is just one part of his artistry, expressing his love for photography (especially the light in his adopted hometown of Santa Fe), cooking, and playing the guitar as part of his meditation as a practicing  Zen Buddhist monk.

Liebert is hard to pin down when it comes to what kind of music he plays. He was born in Germany to a German-Chinese father and a Hungarian mother. He traveled all over Europe while growing up and Asia as a young man. After he moved to the US and settled in Santa Fe, he was turned on to Mexican and Spanish music. Liebert began studying guitar as a teenager and was inspired by a flamenco album he found at the bottom of a bin in a record store. His love of the form lead to his breakout album, “Nouveau Flamenco” in 1990. He’s recorded 30 albums since then.

Liebert says flamenco isn’t Spanish, but derives from Arabic and African rhythms. He hears the influence of rumba and tango and other rhythms of the Caribbean. While “Nouveau Flamenco” had its detractors for not being pure to the canon, Liebert believes in being open as a musician, to look at the world with wonder and select the things that call to you. Music, for him, is the universal language. He speculates that before humans were speaking in language we were singing and drumming.

Liebert will be performing at Variety Playhouse on Monday, Nov. 12, along with Luna Negra. Joining Liebert will be bass player Jon Gagan and percussionist Chris Steel ,who will play the cajon, a box drum. They will be playing some of Liebert’s classics as well as songs from his newest album “Waiting n Swan,” an homage to reggae master Bob Marley.

Franklin Abbott is an Atlanta based psychotherapist, writer and musician.