Tag Archives: Flamenco

Artist Profiles: Bernarda de Utrera

Bernarda de Utrera was born Bernarda Jiménez Peña in 1927, in Utrera, near Seville. She came from a legendary family of Flamenco performers. Bernarda was the daughter of José el de Aurora and Chacha Inés and the granddaughter of Pinini. Pinini, according to those who remember him, was a gipsy whose profession was not that of “cantaor” (singer). Nevertheless, when he began singing everybody stopped doing anything and listened to his songs.

La Calle Nueva s'alborotao
porque Pinini s'amborrachao"
"Nueva Street is in a mess 
'cause Pinini got drunk"

This is the song that people used to sing in Utrera (Seville), the village where this Gypsy man was born, when he appeared drunk and singing all along Nueva Street, where he lived. Bernarda, Pinini’s granddaughter, inherited that magic that all the gifted have, and when she sang, her wonderful, imaginative and voracious voice made easy what really seems too difficult: singing with rhythm.

Fernanda de Utrera was Bernarda’s sister, with whom she sang for the first time at family gatherings and private parties. Both sisters continued singing together since then. They even managed to record twenty albums.

Bernarda was one of the Flamenco artists featured at the Spanish Pavilion at New York’s World Fair. She won the Bulerías award at the Córdoba National Contest of Flamenco Art in 1957. Moreover, she also won the National award of Flamenco. She also won the prize known as The Best Music of the year 1988 in Radio Paris, and was given the Andalusian Arts’ Medal.

At the age of 72, Bernarda recorded her first solo CD. It was a unique CD because it was the first time Bernarda sings without her sister Fernanda.

Bernarda de Utrera was a master of flamenco rhythms such as the bulerías, tientos and seguiriyas. She died on October 28, 2009 in Utrera, Spain.

Discography:

Fernanda y Bernarda De Utrera: Sevilla, cuna del cante flamenco (1959)
Canta y baila Andalucía (1962)
Por ver a mi madre diera (1962)
Jaleo flamenco (1966)
El flamenco de Manuela Vargas (1966)
Festivales flamencos (1966)
Festival de cante jondo Antonio Mairena (1967)
El cante de Fernanda y Bernarda de Utrera (1967)
Quisiera ser como el aire (1967)
Si me ven hablar contigo (1967)
Archivo del cante flamenco (1968)
Potaje gitano de Utrera (1968)
Romance de la reina Mercedes (1968)
Al mismo juego (1970)
Antología de las bulerías (1971)
Fiesta en Utrera II (1971)
Duende del cante 1972)
Su cante (Movieplay, 1972)
Triana, ay mi Triana (1974)
Manuela Vargas, flamenco puro (1975)
Utrera canta (1982)
Magna antología del cante flamenco (1982)
Antología del cante gitano de nuestra tierra (1986)
Medio siglo de cante flamenco (1987)
Maestros del flamenco. Bulerías (1988)
Flamenco. En concert à Paris (1988)
Cante flamenco (1988)
Maestros del cante (1990)
Raza y compás (Pasarela, 1990)
Testimonios flamencos. Historia del flamenco (1996)
Cultura jonda 7 (1997)
Cultura jonda 10 (1997)
Quejío, ritmo de la sangre (1997)
Un gitano de ley (1997)
Utrera en directo (1998)
Cantes inéditos (1999)
Gitanas de Utrera por bulerías (2000)

Solo:

Ahora (LunaDisco 1998)

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Artist Profiles: Arcángel

Arcángel

While in his early twenties, Arcángel became part of a select group of flamenco singers. He maintains this position because he wants to, because he can and because he knows how to do it.

Francisco José Arcángel Ramos, better known as Arcangel, was born in Huelva in 1977. His family was originally from the town of Alosno, known as the birthplace of fandango and the main source of the province’s rich folklore. At a mere 10 years of age, Arcángel demonstrated an unprecedented command of the local fandango when he took First Prize in a children’s competition organized by a flamenco association in Huelva called “La Orden” (“The Order”). This trophy was the prelude to a long series of honours that would eventually encourage Arcángel to dedicate himself professionally to his passion for singing flamenco.

Arcángel is capable of maintaining control of his singing technique, including compás, voice tuning and musical structure, while broadcasting an endless reverberation of perfectly rounded tones. That’s how you connect! And we’re not talking about his influence in the feminine arena, which we know nothing about, but to his amazing ability to present a cante (flamenco song) in one go, at a slow radiant pace while barely taking a breath.

Without a doubt, he has an Olympic temperament, comparable to the bullfighter’s ability to ‘moderate, adjust and control’ a charging bull. One of Arcángel’s outstanding characteristics is the intelligent way that he updates the traditional styles from his homeland. He revives them by adding infinite melodic overtones and by minimizing constraints.

In 2012, along with Fahmi Alqhai, he received the Giraldillo for Best Music at the Flamenco Biennial of Seville for the show Las idas y las vueltas. In 2015 he released his album “Tablao”. In February 2017 he was awarded the Medal of Andalusia.

[Translated by Rita Granda]

Discography:

Arcángel (Virgin, 2001)
La Calle Perdía ‎(Ediciones Senador, 2004)
De Oscura Llama ‎(Anemos, 2009)
Quijote De Los Sueños (Sony Music, 2011)
Las Idas Y Las Vueltas ˙ Músicas Mestizas ‎(Alqhai&Alqhai, 2012)
Tablao ‎(Universal Music, 2015)
Al Este Del Cante (Universal Music, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Amalgama

Karnataka College of Percussion

Amalgama was the amazing result of the collaboration between Spanish Flamenco and Jazz musicians and the renowned Karnataka College of Percussion, from India.

The idea behind the project was to blend two cultures with a common background: Gypsy Flamenco (it is believed that Gypsies originally came from India) and Indian music. Flamenco vocals (which have some similarities with Indian vocals), rhythms (especially the palmas or hand clappings) and guitars were mixed with Indian vocals and percussion.

The musicians involved were: T.A.S. Mani (mridangam), Ramamani (Indian vocals, konakol), Sheshikumar (kanjira), Tunsi Beyer (ghatam, tabil), Xavi Turull (tabla, ghatam, berimbau), Juan Parrilla (flute), Jesús Losada (Flamenco guitar), Antonio Ramos (bass), Pau Martinez (congas) and Charo Manzano (Flamenco vocals).

The group only recorded one album titled Encuentro.

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Spanish Flamenco Singer Chiquetete dies at 70

Chiquetete

Spanish flamenco and ballad singer Antonio José Cortés Pantoja, better known as Chiquetete, died in Seville, Spain on December 16, 2019 after surgery complications. He was 70 years old.

Chiquetete (the boy) was born in Algeciras, Cádiz, on July 26, 1948 in a gypsy family.  The household relocated to Seville when he was 8 years old.  At 12, he joined the group Los Algecireños (later called Los Gitanillos del Tardón) with Manuel Molina Jiménez and Manolo Domínguez “El Rubio”.  At that time he adopted the artistic name of his maternal uncle, known as El chiquetete de Jerez.

In 1976, he won the Mairena del Alcor Prize. After that, he began his solo career with the recording Gitano yo he nacio in 1977 and Triana despierta (1979), accompanied by acclaimed guitarists Paco Cepero and Enrique de Melchor.

He was a flamenco singer until 1980. Chiquetete’s LP Altozano meant a radical shift in his career as he entered the romantic ballad genre with flamenco influences. This was followed by Tú y yo in 1981.

Chiquetete

In 1988 he released Sevilla sin tu amor, which included one of his greatest hits: A la Puerta de Toledo. A year later he released Canalla, with songs composed by romantic ballad hit maker Juan Pardo, although this album was not as successful as previous efforts.

In the 1990s he released three albums. After retiring for a few years, Chiquetete came back with Como la marea (2004), produced by his son Fran Cortés.

In recent years, Chiquete continued performing traditional flamenco and ballads.

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The SGAE Foundation to Present ‘Flamencos y mestizos’ from December 13 to 16 in Madrid

Cynthia Cano

The SGAE Foundation will present one more edition of the Flamenco and mestizo series this year. The performances begin today, December 13 and will run until December 16, 2018. The artists include Diego Amador, Lela Soto, Cynthia Cano, Israel Fernández, Claudia ‘La Debla’, and Chico Pérez in collaboration with Amparo Navarro.

Lela Soto

Flamencos y mestizos will start on Thursday, December 13 with showcases by two of the youngest artists. First, one of the most promising vocalists of the current flamenco scene, Lela Soto, heiress of the legacy of La Casa de Los Sordera (the Sordera Family). After that, bailaora (dancer) Cynthia Cano, will stage her show, full of inspiration, grace and flamenco temperament.

Israel Fernández

On December 14, the Sala Berlanga will host the pure cante (singing style) of Israel Fernández. It is 21st century flamenco with a lot of rhythm, harmony and spirit.

Claudia ‘La Debla’

The double set will close with the very young Claudia ‘La Debla’ who has managed to win the hearts of flamenco lovers with her dance.

Diego Amador

Diego Amador, known as the Gypsy Ray Charles (El Rey Charles Gitano) because of the free and energetic spirit with which he plays the piano,will present a single show on Saturday, December 15.

Chico Pérez

 The series will close on Sunday, December 16th, with Chico Pérez, an emerging pianist from Jaén, who will perform accompanied by Amparo Navarro’s dance.

Flamencos y mestizos is a showcase created to present a window to emerging artists who explore the borders between deep flamenco and mestizo (hybrid) flamenco through compositions, dance and song. This is the second installment of this series in 2018 (it has been running since 2015), directed by the producer, composer and singer Paco Ortega.

Shows start at 21:00 (9:00 p.m.) at Sala Berlanga, Calle Andrés Mellado 53, Madrid. Price: 5.50 euros. Advance sale at the box office and at ticketea.com.

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Interview with Flamenco Arabic Ensemble Mujeres Mediterráneas

Mujeres Mediterráneas (Mediterranean Women) is an all-female ensemble based in Granada (Spain) featuring artists from various backgrounds, who combine Flamenco and Arabic music. World Music Central interviewed this rising act.

Mujeres Mediterráneas – Photo by José Asensio

How did the Mujeres Mediterráneas project come about?

Mujeres Mediterráneas is a musical ensemble based on the coexistence of music and cultures, specifically between Flamenco and Arabic Music. It was created in 2015 as a result of the vital encounter of our music on stage. The project arose from a musical encounter where Arab singer Habiba Chaouf coincided with flamenco guitarist Pilar Alonso; a musical and cultural exchange was created that grew and resulted in the current quartet incorporating flutist, Mixtlan Salomón and the then little known flamenco cantaora (singer), Ana Sola.

In the musical universe of Mediterranean women, Middle Eastern and Andalusian rhythms are interwoven between harmonies, flamenco songs, Arabic songs and Sephardic melodies. Thus, they discover and experience a personal musical language that dialogues between East and West in a free and playful way. Enjoying the musicality and diversity of the languages (Berber, Classical Arabic, French Dariya and Spanish). Between the “pinches” of the flamenco guitar, the melodies of the flute, the rhythmic variations of the bendir and flamenco palmas (handclap percussion), the Arabic and flamenco voices move between Morocco, the East and Spain, transporting us to a trip throughout the Mediterranean, remembering the essence that each culture entails.

How did the four members of the group meet?

Habiba and Pilar coincided in a fusion show. This meeting generated a friendship relationship by sharing the customs of their cultures in essays accompanied by the gastronomy of both countries. In each rehearsal the music was present in a natural way and likewise mixed, like a stew that requires different ingredients. The Arabic voice feels accompanied by the flamenco harmonies and rhythms and feels them as their own and the guitar is recreated in the Arabic melismas as “quejíos” (flamenco moans).

Mixtlan, recently arrived from Argentina, with much knowledge of flamenco and Arabic music, joined the group with flamenco singing sung with the flute in what we call the “flautaora”.

Ana, one of the most important cantaoras of her generation, joined later, providing with her vocal strength and her stylistic versatility a very personal vision of the flamenco side.

Mujeres Mediterráneas – Photo by José Asensio

What are the essential elements of your music?

We work with “the dialogue between the Arabic voice of Habiba and the flamenco voice of Ana” with the accompaniment of Pilar’s guitar and Mixtlan’s flute, along with the instrumental songs of the “flute” and the falsetas of the “tocaora” (guitar player). All this is completed with the rhythms of the bendir performed by Habiba and the flamenco palmas of Ana.

Who can be cited as the main musical influences of the group?

We are inspired by classical Arabic music and poetry and flamenco in general, giving our “personal touch”. Each of us carries a “backpack” of musical knowledge that, when put together, generates a particular sound.

What musical instruments do you use?

Flamenco guitar, Pilar Alonso.
Flamenco flute, Mixtlan Solomon.
Arabic bendir Arab, Habiba Chaouf.
Flamenco palmas, Ana Sola.

What has been the reaction of the public so far?

The public surprises us with their reaction every time we get on the stage. We are grateful for the coexistence of cultures and the naturalness that characterizes us when we present ourselves in public. We also see that they enjoy female complicity that is not frequent in the current music scene.

How’s the flamenco scene in your area?

Flamenco is very healthy in Granada. Since it was named a World Heritage genre, it is cared for and more powerful. Flamenco reaches every corner of the world and that makes it possible to mix with all cultures, being a very open music.

Have you recorded any albums?

We are currently in the process of recording.

Much of what is broadcast on the radio, internet and movies is pop and hip hop. How do you divulge your music?

We currently do it with music videos on Youtube and our live performances.

Is there any effort on your part to raise awareness of flamenco and the music of the Maghreb?

Both Maghreb and Flamenco music are world-renowned, we take care of making them live together naturally, from the enjoyment of musical diversity and the complicity of common aspects from where they meet.

We like to share our music with all kinds of audiences including children that provides us their natural vision of mixing, from innocence without prejudice.

If you could gather musicians or musical groups to collaborate, who would you call?

We are open to collaborations from both the Flamenco world and the Arab world, as long as their music flows with our style.

Are you preparing any new projects

We are preparing the recording of our first album and a new show which shows the linguistic relationship between Arabic and Flamenco.

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Artist Profiles: Pedro Jóia

Pedro Jóia

At the age of seven Pedro Jóia began his classical guitar studies with professor Paulo Valente Pereira at the cademia dos Amadores de Música de Lisboa,“ concluding the guitar course at the Conservatório Nacional de Lisboa with professor Manuel Morais in 1990.

In 1986 he began his Flamenco guitar studies initially on his own, and later attending master classes and improvement courses in Cordoba and Jerez de la Frontera (Spain) with guitarists Paco Peña and Gerardo Núñez.

He attended, between 1989 and 1992, the Escola Superior de Belas Artes de Lisboa.

Between 1990 and 1992 he taught the discipline of classical guitar at the “ Conservatório Regional de Loures.

From 1992 to 1998, he studied and worked with Manolo Sanlúcar in Córdoba and Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Spain).

In 1993, he began his concertmaster activity by performing at municipal auditoriums and music and guitar festivals.

He has worked for the theater, composing and arranging original music, such as, Lorca, Federico at the Teatro Experimental de Cascais with stage director Carlos Avilez.

Nowadays he teaches classical guitar for the higher degree in Music at the Universidade de Évora.

He has performed in various countries including Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Holland, India, Mozambique and Ivory Coast.

On the first of June 2001, he presented the show “ Variações Sobre Carlos Paredes “ at the great auditorium of the “ Centro Cultural de Belém.“

2002 confirmed the success of the previous year with several shows staged both in Portugal and abroad.

He was invited to perform in Macau with the Chinese Orchestra to play a mix of Portuguese and Chinese composition including Verdes Anos of Carlos Paredes.

Early, Carlos Paredes’ music woke in me a strong “Portuguese” conscience.

With his legacy of a guitar family tradition originating from Coimbra, Paredes created an unmistakable, nostalgic sound, that punctuated the history of the last decades of 20th century Portugal.”

Discography:

Guadiano (Farol Música, 1996)
Jacarandá (Zona Música 2000)
Variações Sobre Carlos Paredes (Farol, 2001)
À Espera De Armandinho (HM Música, 2007)
Vendaval (2017)

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Artist Profiles: Miguel Czachowski

Miguel Czachowski

Polish guitarist Miguel Czachowski was born in 1974 into a family of flamenco lovers. At the age of 12, he began learning to play the guitar. After his initial studies, he took master classes from professional flamenco players such as Rafael Cortes, Salva del Real and Gerardo Núñez, solidifying his dedication to flamenco.

In 1992, he formed a flamenco group and gradually enlarged the numbers of artists from a duo to septet. His group “Viva Flamenco!” played both traditional and contemporary flamenco, mixed with influences from Indian and jazz. Performing both as a solo artist and also with his musical group, Miguel has won first prizes in many folk festivals and is now the leading flamenco player in his country.

He has performed and recorded with many great artists and groups, and has toured all over Poland as well as abroad (Austria, Germany, Italy, France, England, Belgium, Holland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Belarus and India). For several years he has been teaching flamenco guitar, and writing articles and interviews, promoting the art of flamenco music in magazines as “Flamenco International Magazine,” “Jazz Forum” and “Swiat Gitary.”

In 1998, after a performance in Italy, he was invited to India to teach flamenco guitar at the Academy of Music and Fine Arts in Nagpur. There he started studying Indian music, learning to play the sitar under the guidance of Avaneendra Sheolikar. His fascination for flamenco and Indian music inspired him to go back to the roots of the Gypsy music and record the Indialucia CD, which received praise from press and listeners. The album was distinguished with the 1st prize “Best Album of the Year 2005” and 2nd music critics’ prize at the New Tradition competition for the “Folk Phonogram of 2005” award in Poland.

Discography:

Indialucía ‎(CM Records, 2005)
Acatao (2014)

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Guided By… Series at 20th Flamenco Biennial in Seville

The 20th edition of the Flamenco Biennial will expand to new venues in Seville such as Factoría Cultural-Polígono Sur a place where flamenco is a natural experience.

Each Saturday, September 8, 15, 22 and 29, at noon, the series “De la mano de… (Guided by…) will take place. This is one of the great novelties this year, a project that pursues the discovery of new artists sponsored by three well known artists, each one of them from the three disciplines of flamenco jondo art (guitar, dance and song). These great artists are acclaimed guitarist Gerardo Núñez, celebrated dancer Farruquito and renowned cantaor (singer) José Valencia.

Guided by José Valencia… will introduce singer Ismael de la Rosa “El Bola; Farruquito will present Antonio Amaya “El Petete”; and Gerardo Núñez will introduce guitarist Álvaro Martinete.

The series will close on Saturday 29 with the show “3,000 Descendants”.

More about the Flamenco Biennial at www.labienal.com

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Artist Profiles: Juan Carmona

Juan Carmona

His family name is Carmona, like his distant cousins the Habichuelas dynasty of Granada, all guitarists. His ancestors were blacksmiths in Malaga, however his branch of the family emigrated to North Africa. In 1963, he was born in Lyon, France.

Juan was barely 10 when his father gave him his first guitar. His virtuosity became quickly apparent to professional musicians and it was only a matter of time before he began gathering international acclaim. He obtained his degree as a concert musician, awarded by the celebrated National Conservatory of Music in Paris and, at the age of 26, became the first professor of flamenco guitar in France holding a state-awarded diploma.

Juan Carmona soon felt the urge to return to the land of his ancestors, to go back to his roots and imbibe again at the family spring: Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia. He had a personal challenge: to revive recognition of the originality of his art in the town considered as the cradle of flamenco. And the wager was won: for more than eight years, he rubbed elbows with and accompanied some of the greatest names in flamenco, all the while immersing himself in their talents: singers Agujetas, Duquende, Terremoto hijo, Rubichi, Antonio and Manuel Malenas, Jesus Monje (brother of Camaron de la Isla), Jose Mendez, dancers Joaquín Grilo, Ana Parrilla, Angelita Vargas … and recorded with Moraito, Rubem Dantas, Niño de Pura, Manolito Soler, Tino di Geraldo, and Chano Dominguez.

In 1988, he was awarded first prize in the Jerez de la Frontera International Competition, and was a finalist in the Union and Cordoba Guitar Competition. In 1989, he obtained a diploma from the Jerez Flamenco Foundation, awarded by guitarist Manolo Sanlúcar. In 1990, he won the Villa Médicis Hors Les Murs award, the Don Antonio Chacon trophy awarded by his “peña flamenca” (flamenco fan cliub), and in 1992 the Lavoisier award. Finally, in 1994, he achieved the ultimate laureate: first prize in the Madrid Paco de Lucia Competition.

Besides his many concert achievements, awards and relationships in the guitar world, this French-born gipsy can add a further distinction: permanent triumph in Spain, particularly in Andalusia where he created upheaval in the world of flamenco. His sojourn is Spain gave birth to his recording “Borboreo” (sending waves through the music world in 1996) in tribute to the city of Jerez, and “Entre dos barrios”, with singer Jose Mendez and guitarist Moraito Chico.

Juan Carmona

Since his return to France in 1996, Juan Carmona has known an endless series of recordings and concert engagements. He worked with a fabulous stream of musicians representing a wide range of musical genres: Birili Lagren, Babik Rheinhart, Larry Corriel, Philip Catherin, Christian Escoudé, Raphael Fays, Louis Winsberg, to name just a few in the area of jazz; Subramanian and the Chemirani family in Indian and Iranian music singer Matlubeth (Uzbekistan); and participation in numerous film scores, (La belle Histoire, Cuisines et Dépendances, Sables Mouvants). Juan Carmona set up his own group: Juan Carmona Grupo, staging shows throughout France and abroad, forging himself an international musical career: USA, Germany, Italy, England, Morocco, Switzerland, Portugal, in addition to performances in major music conferences such as Midem (1996) and Womex (1997). A program was devoted to him on the Franco-German channel Arte in October 1998, presented by the maestro Lord Yehudi Menuhin, who considered Carmona to be an outstanding guitarist.

Discography:

Borboreo (Le Chant du Monde, 1996)
Falla Lorca (L’empreinte digitale, 1997)
Entre dos barrios (L’empreinte digitale, 1997)
Antes (L’empreinte digitale, 1998)
Cosa de Dos (L’empreinte digitale, 1999)
Caminos Nuevos (Le Chant du Monde, 2000)
Orillas (Le Chant du Monde, 2002)
Sinfonia Flamenca (Le Chant du Monde, 2006)
El Sentido del Aire (Le Chant du Monde, 2010)
Alchemya (World Village, 2013)
Perla de Oriente, Nomades Kultur, 2016)

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