Artist Profiles: Juan Manuel Cañizares

Juan Manuel Cañizares – Photo by Mario Pacheco

Juan Manuel Cañizares was born in 1966 in Sabadell, in Spain’s northeastern province of Barcelona, the son of parents from southern Spain. He started his studies at the age of 10 at the Sabadell Municipal Conservatory then continued in Tarrasa and Barcelona. In 1982, Cañizares obtained the Jerez National Guitar Award.

He toured with the group El Ultimo de la Fila in 1989, which allowed him to see outside the world of flamenco. Since then, he has continued to work with Spanish and international musicians such as: Enrique Morente, the legendary Camaron de la Isla, María Pagés, Pepe de Lucía, Rocío Jurado, Vince Mendoza, Joan Manuel Serrat, Peter Gabriel, Al Di Meola, Mike Stern, Peter Erskine, Michael Brecker and The Chieftains.

Meeting Paco de Lucía was one of the most decisive experiences in Cañizares’ musical career. He collaborated with Paco de Lucía in the shows Sólo, Dúo, Trío and was later a member of the Paco de Lucía Septet. Their collaboration lasted ten years (1988-1998), until Cañizares decided to launch his own career.

In 1997, Cañizares recorded his first album titled Noches de Imán y Luna, which is rated as a great event in the flamenco world. With this recording, Cañizares found a new way to understand flamenco and became one of the most important advocates of flamenco guitar. His second album is based on an exceptional transcription of Albéniz’ piano sonnets for two guitars it is a beautiful work from both a musical and a historical point of view.

In 2004 Cañizares collaborated with the recording of “The Official Torch Relay Theme”. This track was included on the record “Unity” (the official record for the Olympic Games in Athens 2004) which was sold in over 50 countries. In 2005 he had a huge success at Carnegie Hall in New York where he performed at the “Mano a Mano” show with Jose Maria Gallardo del Rey. Cañizares is also a noted composer who has created works for the Ballet Nacional de España as well as film scores.

In 2007 he released “Suite Iberia, which is a transcription and interpretation of the Iberia Suite, exactly a hundred years after Isaac Albeniz composed the masterpiece. This rather grand and vast composition is based on the popular music and sonority of the Spain in which Albeniz lived, inherently influenced by flamenco. Iberia, originally written for the piano, is for the first time adapted for two guitars, both played by Cañizares. The result is an exciting and surprising communion between the charisma of Cañizares’ guitar and the flamenco underlying the original piece by Albeniz.

Cañizares recorded several classical music albums featuring compositions by Albéniz, Granados, Falla and Scarlatti.

In 2018, Cañizares released an independent album titled
El mito de la caverna.” The album won the prestigious Spanish MIN independent music award in 2019 for Best Flamenco Album.

Flamenco tradition has brought me, following the Platonic metaphor, the language of the shadows in the cavern, those mysterious sounds that reached me traveling down the river of tradition. Years later, while studying at the music conservatory, I learned musical theory, which in similar metaphoric terms can be regarded as the language of sunlight. This intellectual perception of music allowed me to travel to a very different musical world,” said Cañizares.

[First part of the biography translated by Rita Granda]

Discography:

Noches de Imán y Luna (Nuevos Medios, 1997)
Transcripción Original de Albéniz (Nuevos Medios, 1999)
Punto de Encuentro (EMI, 2000)
Suite Iberia – Albéniz por Cañizares (Sony BMG, 2007)
Cuerdas del Alma (Sony Music, 2010)
La Vida Breve – Falla por Cañizares Vol.2 (JMC Music Productions, 2013)
El Sombrero de Tres Picos – Falla por Cañizares Vol.1 (JMC Music Productions, 2013)
El Amor Brujo – Falla por Cañizares Vol.3 (JMC Music Productions, 2014)
Goyescas – Granados por Cañizares (Sony Music, 2012)
Sonatas – Scarlatti por Cañizares (JMC Music Productions, 2014)
Danzas Españolas – Trilogía de Granados por Cañizares Vol. 1 (JMC Music Productions, 2017)
Valses Poéticos – Trilogía de Granados por Cañizares Vol. 2 (JMC Music Productions, 2017)
Goyescas – Trilogía de Granados por Cañizares Vol. 3 (JMC Music Productions, 2017)
El mito de la caverna (JMC Music Productions, 2018)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.
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