Flamenco Has Come a Long Way

The most recent Flamenco-related recordings that have arrived to World Music Central show how far Flamenco music has evolved in the past decades.

One of the pioneers of New Flamenco in Spain has ironically reissued several recordings by one of the biggest legends of traditional Flamenco song, La Niña de los Peines. Cantes Gitanos is part of the collection Flamenco Vivo, curated by producer Ricardo Pachón. The collection includes tracks that range from the 1920s to the 1950s. Several of the songs have been digitally remastered from old 78 rpm recordings. Accompanying La Niña de los Peines are several of the best Flamenco guitarists of the pre-Paco de Lucía era: Niño Ricardo, Manolo de Badajoz and Melchor de Marchena. Cantes Gitanos comes with an extensive biography in Spanish, English and French.

Nuevos Medios takes a quantum leap with Piano Jondo, by Diego Amador. Flamenco piano has gained quite a reputation in recent years thanks to several musicians who have combined Flamenco with a refined jazz technique. Diego Amador belongs to a new generation of performers. He is a self-taught musician from Sevilla. Is his music flamenco or is it jazz. It certainly seems like it leans closer to jazz, but the Flamenco roots are deep. Regardless of the categorizations, Diego Amador is someone to closely watch in the field of jazz piano.

Cross cultural collaborations were not very common in the early 20th century. Now Flamenco musicians feel comfortable jamming with jazz musicians, Moroccan Andalusian orchestras and, lately, with musicians from the Indian subcontinent, searching for the musical roots of gypsies.

Most of the South Asian collaborations up now focused on India. Qawwali-Flamenco, however, as the name implies, centers on a collaboration between Pakistani Qawwalli singers and Flamenco musicians from Spain. The beautifully packaged boxed set comes with detailed liner notes and photos, which are available in English, Spanish and French. The collection includes two CDs and a DVD.

On the Pakistani side, the artists selected is Faiz Ali Faiz and his ensemble. On the Flamenco side, the artists selected are three well known Barcelona-based performers. Barcelona’s Flamenco scene pales in comparison with the powerhouses of Madrid, Sevilla and Jerez, but the Mediterranean city has produced some fine performers. The artists selected are singers Miguel Poveda, Duquende and guitarist Chicuelo.

For those who are familiar with the gut wrenching “cante jondo”, the Qawaali style of singing seems eerily familiar. Whether the two genres are related is not clear, but they are both deeply moving passionate styles.

British bassist Franc O’Shea has recorded a captivating album that fuses Flamenco, jazz and world music elements. Alkimia is true musical alchemy. O’Shea is skillful at bringing together different genres. He combines his masterful bass technique with jazz grooves, various flutes, violin, Flamenco guitar and percussion.

O’Shea shows he is serious about Flamenco and Spanish music by having some top of the line musicians as guests: guitarists Juan Manuel Cañizares and Chema Vilchez, percussionist Rubem Dantas and flautist Jorge Pardo. The album can be purchased from Amazon UK. Click on