El Niño Machuca
Searching your South – Buscando tu Sur (Ozella Music, 2013)
Searching your South – Buscando tu Sur is a brilliant example of how jazz and flamenco can combine in a new exciting way. Although fusions of jazz and flamenco have been around for many years, very few flamenco-inspired jazz guitarists (such as Guadalquivir’s Andres Olaegui and Luis Cobo ‘Manglis’) came from Spain. Spanish musicians focused primarily on the flamenco guitar. Now enters Francisco de Asis Machuca Borjas, from Sevilla, better known as Paco ‘El Niño’ Machuca who has developed a unique Spanish-flavored jazz-guitar style accompanied by flamenco rhythms.
Searching your South – Buscando tu Sur features a series of exquisite pieces that have the spirit of flamenco and the technique of jazz guitar. What makes the album special is that in addition to El Niño Machuca’s distinct guitar style, he is accompanied by a group of flamenco musicians who provide a genuine flamenco ambience to the music with the use of percussion instruments such as cajón and handclap percussion as well as flamenco guitar.
The flamenco palos (styles) used by El Niño Machuca are primarily the elegant slow tempo tangos and the faster and intricate bulerias which are rarely used by fusionists outside of Spain. Most of the pieces on the album are originals by El Niño Machuca, although he also performs a version of Paco Ortega’s famous song “Tu me camélas” as well as a composition inspired by Federico Garcia Lorca’s “La leyenda del tiempo”.
El Niño Machuca grew up listening to flamenco as well as rock, jazz and pop. He was one of the founders in 1988 of a very popular chart-topping pop-rock band from Sevilla called No Me Pises Que Llevo Chanclas. In 1996, he left the band and collaborated with artists like Antonio Flores, Alex Ortiz and Jakim.
The lineup on Searching your South – Buscando tu Sur includes El Niño Machuca on guitar and percussion; English musician Neil Doyle on bass and flugelhorn; Pablo Núñez on cajón and palmas (handclaps); Javi Ceballos on Spanish guitar; Raúl Regateiro and Fran Cortez on jaleos (words of encouragement) and palmas.
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