Son de la Frontera (sound of the border) was an unconventional Flamenco ensemble from southern Spain. The members of Son de la Frontera convey unbridled flamenco passion while also carving a wholly unique path in their personal tribute to Spain’s renowned guitar master and sonic innovator Diego del Gastor.
In performing the music of maestro Gastor, the great guitarist and musical visionary from Moron de la Frontera (in the province of Sevilla), Son de la Frontera was committed to exploring the cross-pollination of Spanish-based traditions with sounds from four other continents, revealing flamenco’s ancient Moorish and Middle Eastern heritage while also blending in rhythmic and melodic elements from Cuba Argentina Colombia and Venezuela.
Throughout his illustrious career Gastor (1908-1973) was known for his melding of Latin sounds with flamenco traditions. Son de la Frontera expands on his rich legacy by being the first flamenco group to prominently feature the Cuban tres (literally “three” in Spanish), a small guitar-like instrument with three sets of double metal strings.
Led by Raul Rodriguez on the tres, Son de la Frontera also included two of Gastor’s descendants: Spanish guitar virtuoso Paco De Amparo and flamenco dancer Pepe Torres (both grand-nephews of the maestro). The group was rounded out by vocalist Moi De Moron and percussionist Manuel Flores, both of whom were born and raised in the flamenco hotbed of Gastor’s beloved Moron de la Frontera. Together they created a scintillating chemistry on their United States debut.
Their debut CD Son de la Frontera was full of stirring falsetas and precision unison lines between Rodriguez’s steel-stringed tres and Amparo’s nylon-stringed guitar exhilarating flurries of synchronized handclaps (compas) from Flores and Moron dramatic pulse-quickening taps from dancer Torres and intensely passionate vocals from Moron.
Gastor’s compositions illuminated the Middle Eastern influences on flamenco in the spirited zambra “Arabesco” while his soleas “Como El Agua Entre Las Piedras” and “Recuerdo” are laden with emotion.
Elsewhere Gastor’s joyful rumba “Tangos de mi Novia” uncovers an Argentine connection to flamenco – while the brisk interplay between Rodriguez’s tres and Amparo’s strummed guitar on that buoyant piece also adds the infectious spirit of a Cuban tumbao rhythm. The album’s 9-minute centerpiece “Cambiaron Los Tiempos,” is a stunning showcase for each individual in the ensemble to stretch out instrumentally on a danceable seguiriya form.
The members of Son de la Frontera met in 1998 while playing together in the band supporting Rodriguez’s mother, renowned Spanish singer Martirio. As he explains “All of the band’s members loved the legacy of Diego del Gastor and we began experimenting with his music incorporating the Cuban tres that my mother brought back for me from Havana. It was a special souvenir from her appearance at the 90th birthday celebration for the great Cuban guitarist Compay Segundo [of the Buena Vista Social Club] For me, bringing the Cuban tres to flamenco was a natural extension of Gastor’s creative vision.”
In 2001 Paco de Amparo formed a new band called SonAires de la Frontera.