This is a
magnificent profile of Paco de Lucia, one of the greatest guitarists of all
The Spanish composer and guitarist was particularly skilled in flamenco, but crossed over into a range of other styles such as classical, jazz and world music.
His vast archive of music combined technical magic, raw energy, tender emotion and superb melody. From bulerias and tanguillos to tangos and rhumbas, this compilation showcases Paco de Lucia’s virtuosity.
If you can’t make it to Andalucia in southern Spain, this album will give you a flavor! We particularly recommend the tracks ‘Danza Ritual Del Fuego,’ ‘Cepa Andaluza’ and ‘Rumba Improvisada.’
Paco de Lucía was one of the greatest guitarists in the world. He was born Francisco Sánchez Gómez in Algeciras, a port city in the province of Cádiz, in the southernmost tip of Spain on December 21st, 1947. His stage name (Lucia’s Paco) is a tribute to his mother Lucía Gómez.
His father, Antonio Sánchez, a day laborer, played guitar at night as a way to supplement his income. His father, Paco’s elder brother Ramón de Algeciras, and flamenco guitar master Niño Ricardo were de Lucía’s main influences. His first performance was on Radio Algeciras in 1958.
The training ground for a flamenco guitarist, de Lucía once said, “is the music around you, made by people you see, the people you make music with. You learn it from your family, from your friends, in la juerga (the party) drinking. And then you work on technique. Guitarists do not need to study. And, as it is with any music, the great ones will spend some time working with the young players who show special talent.
You must understand that a Gypsy’s life is a life of anarchy. That is a reason why the way of flamenco music is a way without discipline, as you know it. We don’t try to organize things with our minds, we don’t go to school to find out. We just live… music is everywhere in our lives.”
In 1958, at only age 11, de Lucía made his first public appearance and a year later he was awarded a special prize in the Jerez flamenco competition. At 14 he was touring with the flamenco troupe of dancer Jose Greco. He worked with Greco for three seasons.
It was while on tour with Greco in the United States of America that de Lucía met the great Sabicas, an influential guitarist whose name became synonymous with flamenco in the United States, who encouraged him to pursue a more personal style. De Lucía would follow Sabicas’ advice a few years later in his debut at Carnegie Hall in 1970.
“In flamenco, the guitarist first and foremost, must not get in the way of the singer,” de Lucía once explained. “There is a dialog going on. The cantaor (singer) sings the words. There are no songs per se in flamenco, just short lyrics, so the guitarist follows the call of the singer. Part of the tradition in flamenco is not playing too hard or too much. You need to support the singer, help him.”
Back in Spain, de Lucia joined Festival flamenco Gitano, an annual flamenco showcase tour that lasted for seven years, and recorded his first album in 1965, at the age of 18.
With La Fabulosa guitarra de Paco de Lucía, released in 1967, de Lucía began to distance himself from the influence masters such as Niño Ricardo and Mario Escudero and by Fantasia Flamenca, recorded in 1969, he had defined his own style. His superb technique was displayed in well-structured pieces that departed from the flamenco tradition of theme and variations.
In 1968, he met Camarón de la Isla, one of the leading flamenco singers at the time. Their association was chronicled on more than 10 records. Their album Potro de Rabia y Miel (1991) was perhaps the last studio release by Camarón de la Isla, who died in 1992.
Paco de Lucia was criticized by flamenco die hards for his ventures into other styles. His own sextet, formed in 1981, included bass, drums, and saxophone. Paco also had high profile collaborations, especially with jazz musicians, most notably with pianist Chick Corea and fellow guitarists John McLaughlin, Larry Coryell and Al DiMeola. The remarkable results of these collaborations have been documented in several releases including the guitar trio albums Castro Marin (1979), Passion Grace and Fire (1982) and Friday Night in San Francisco (1981).
Paco de Lucia also recorded soundtracks for films such as Carlos Saura’s Carmen, Borau’s La Sabina, and the ballet Los Tarantos, presented at Madrid’s prestigious Teatro de la Zarzuela in 1986.
However, as if to make a point, de Lucía returned to pure flamenco in the spectacular Siroco (1987), a brilliant outline of his style, and then twist and turned back towards fusion with Zyryab (1990) that featured his sextet enhanced by pianist Chick Corea.
Through his Brazilian percussionist Rubem Dantas, Paco de Lucía introduced the cajón, a previously unknown Peruvian instrument to flamenco. Since then, the cajón has become a standard feature in most flamenco ensembles. Spanish instrument makers have created cajón variations, developing what is now known as cajón flamenco or caja.
De Lucía shrugged off the complaints or the concerns that he might lose his roots or betray the essence of flamenco. “I have never lost my roots in my music, because I would lose myself,” he once said. “What I have tried to do is have a hand holding onto tradition and the other scratching, digging in other places trying to find new things I can bring into flamenco.”
“There was a time when I was concerned about losing myself,” he once said, “but not now. I’ve realized that, even if I wanted, I couldn’t do anything else. I am a flamenco guitarist. If I tried to play anything else it would still sound like flamenco.”
In 2004, Paco de Lucia won the 2004 Prince of Asturias award of the Arts. This is the most important and prestigious award of its kind given in Spain. The other contenders were American rock musician Bruce Springsteen, French dancer Maurice Bejart and British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.
In 2004, after living several years in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, Paco de Lucia moved back to Spain. He chose the ancient historic city of Toledo, which is near Madrid, but is much quieter.
In 2010 Paco de Lucia was presented with an honorary doctor of music degree from Berklee College of Music, recognizing his achievements and influence in music, and for his enduring contributions to American and international culture.
Paco de Lucía‘s last album was a tribute to the memorable music he grew up with. Canción Andaluza collects timeless songs that are now part of the Spanish songbook. In the liner notes, Paco explained how these songs and its performers were looked down upon. The derogatory term folclóricas was used widely in Spain’s cities and by the media. However, Paco and many others disagreed with this perspective and he gave these traditional singers and songwriters a well-earned tribute on this final album.
Canción Andaluza turns passionate songs into dazzling flamenco pieces with a strong melodic component. Undoubtedly, the most famous song is the opening track, ‘Maria de la O’ which most Spaniards have heard at some point in their lives.
Most of Paco’s arrangements on Canción Andaluza are modern and very basic, using the electric bass and percussion accompaniment he pioneered. There is one exception, ‘Romance de valentía’ a song where Paco brought back an old time feel, accompanied by acoustic bass and castanets.
Although some of the new versions are instrumental, ‘Te he de querer mientras viva’ features Estrella Morente, one of the young stars of flamenco and daughter of the late flamenco maestro Enrique Morente. Another vocalist included is well-known flamenco male singer (and guitarist) Parrita. Paco de Lucía was a trailblazer and innovated until the end. The third guest vocalist is salsa legend Oscar de León on the song ‘Señorita,’ where flamenco and salsa embrace each other.
In addition to guitars, Paco also used mandola, mandolin, Arabic oud, and guitarro (a small Spanish five-stringed guitar). The rest of the lineup includes Carlos Benavent on bass; Paquito González on percussion; Alain Perez on bass; Toni cuenca on acosutic bass; Lola Blanco on castanets; Piraña on cajon and congas; Yuri nogueira on bongos; and Carlos Grilo, Bo, Juan Grande and Luis Carrasco Perikin on palmas and jaleos.
Canción Andaluza is a splendid flamenco guitar album that looks back towards tradition, but at the same time brilliantly pushes musical boundaries.
This album is the winner of two 2014 Latin Grammy awards.
The public wake for the great guitarist Paco de Lucía will be take place from 13:30 (1:30 pm) to 17:45 (5:45 pm) am tomorrow, February 28, at the Symphony Hall of the Auditorio Nacional de Música in Madrid after his mortal remains were repatriated to Spain. The flamenco guitar maestro and innovator passed away on February 26 in Mexico. He was 66 years old.
The National Music Auditorium in Madrid is located at the Plaza Brothers Rodolfo and Ernesto Halffter (Metro stations Cruz del Rayo-L9 and Prosperidad-L4).
Jesús López, Chairman of Universal Music Latin America/Iberian Peninsula, the label that released Paco de Lucía’s recordings, said today: “The untimely passing of El Maestro, as those of us who were lucky enough to work with Paco called him, has come as a huge shock. We are devastated by this sudden loss. His cultural heritage will live on, fueling future generations that will have the pleasure of enjoying the stunning body of work of this guitar virtuoso and kind man. Today, Paco de Lucía becomes immortal. Let us celebrate his life respectfully and joyfully”.
Paco de Lucía leaves behind a considerable musical legacy, featuring 30 original albums as a solo guitarist, in addition to multiple collaborations with international artists. De Lucía’s awards and recognitions include the 2004 Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts, the most prestigious acknowledgement given to Flamenco art and, more specifically, to one of its leading exponents.
The guitarist also won a Latin Grammy for “Best Flamenco Album” with his album “Cositas Buenas,” the National Flamenco Guitar Award and the Gold Medal of Merit in the Fine Arts, among others.
Paco de Lucía recently completed the recording of Canción Española, a tribute to Spanish song. The album is scheduled for release in April in Spain and other territories.
Spanish flamenco guitar maestro and innovator Paco de Lucia died in Cancun (Mexico) today, February 26, 2014. The renowned musician was spending a day at the beach with his children when he fell ill and was rushed to the hospital. De Lucia passed away of a heart attack. He was 66.
News of the passing of one of Spain’s most celebrated musicians, have generated a wave of statements and tributes. The Spanish royal family sent condolence telegrams to Paco de Lucia’s family. His hometown of Algeciras in Cadiz province (southernmost Spain) has declared three days of official mourning and flags are flying at half-staff.
Paco de Lucia was the winner of the 2004 Premio Príncipe de Asturias de las Artes, Spain’s most prestigious arts award. Teresa Sanjurjo, director of The Prince of Asturias Foundation stated that Paco de Lucia “was capable of crossing borders with his music, taking flamenco to worldwide recognition.”
The mayor of Algeciras declared that that Paco de Lucia was “the greatest guitar player in the world.”
José Luis Acosta, president of SGAE (Spanish Performing Rights organization) stated: “Paco was and will be a universal artist, who took the guitar and flamenco sentiment to the heart of the whole world.” As a composer, Paco de Lucia registered 400 musical pieces.
The president of the Diputación de Cadiz (Cadiz provincial government), José Loaiza declared “the province has lost today oneof its great geniuses. A man that universalized the Spanish guitar. An artist capable of filling a whole stage with just his guitar. It is a sad day, we will always have his legacy.”
Paco de Lucia’s real name was Francisco Sánchez Gómez. He was born on December 21st, 1947. His stage name, translated as Lucia’s Paco, was a tribute his mother Lucía Gómez.
In 1958, at 11, Paco de Lucía made his first public performance and a year later he was awarded a special prize in the Jerez flamenco competition. In 1961 he formed a duo with his brother Pepe called Los Chiquitos de Algeciras (the little children of Algeciras). At 14 he was touring with the flamenco troupe of dancer Jose Greco. He worked with Greco for three seasons.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Paco de Lucía developed his own style. His beautifully constructed pieces and his masterful technique took flamenco guitar into new directions. Paco de Lucia incorporated jazz elements, the Afro-Peruvian cajon which has become a standard in flamenco and other world music genres, electric bass, and Afro-Latin percussion.
He released essential albums such as Fantasía Flamenca de Paco de Lucía, (Polygram, 1969), El Duende Flamenco de Paco de Lucía (Polygram, 1972), Fuente y Caudal (also known as Entre Dos Aguas ) (Polygram, 1973), Paco de Lucía en vivo desde el Teatro Real (Polygram, 1975) and Almoraima (Polygram, 1976).
In 1968, he met Camarón de la Isla, one of the most influential flamenco singers in the 20th century. Their association was chronicled on more than critically acclaimed 10 records.
Paco de Lucia gained international recognition with his stellar performance in Friday Night in San Francisco (Polygram, 1981) with John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola.
Paco de Lucia’s awards include Premio Nacional de Guitarra de Arte Flamenco (National Flamenco Guitar Award), the 1992 Medalla de Oro al Mérito en las Bellas Artes (Gold Medal for Merit in the Arts), the 2002 Pastora Pavón La Niña de los Peines award given by the Junta de Andalucía (Andalusian Regional Government), and a Latin Grammy for best flamenco album in 2004. He was also granted a Doctor Honoris Causa degree by the Universidad de Cádiz and Berklee College of Music (2010).
Paco de Lucia lived in and out of Spain in recent years, spending time in Palma de Mallorca (Spain), the Yucatán peninsula (Mexico), Toledo (Spain), and Cuba.
The Rhythm Foundation will be presenting some of the best sounds from Spain with two outstanding concerts at the intimate Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater.
Flamenco guitar icon, Paco de Lucia, one of the finest guitarists in the world, is returning to the United States for a rare tour of select cities, starting with Miami Beach. He brings his ensemble of Spain’s finest musicians and dancers. Paco’s newest CD and DVD features a triumphant live recording in Spain last year.
Buika, the unforgettable Afro-Spanish singer, jumps from the screen in Almodovar’s 2011 hit film The Skin I Live In, to a live concert with her ensemble. Her latest work continues to explore the sublime fusion between flamenco, rumba, jazz and soul – with a dose of classic jazz stylings and the American songbook.
These two nights of fine music from Spain are presented with support from TVE and Dish Latino. Season support is received from the City of Miami Beach Cultural Arts Council, Miami Dade Department of Cultural Affairs and Miami Magazine.
Paco de Lucia
Thursday, April 5th, 8 PM
FIllmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater
Tickets $25 – $100 through Ticketmaster outlets or the Fillmore box office
Saturday, May 12th, 8 PM
Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater
Tickets $25 – $75 through Ticketmaster outlets or the Fillmore box office
Rhythm Foundation members, call the office at (305) 672-5202 for premium ticketing and no service fees.
Berklee College of Music President Roger Brown will present Paco de Lucia, Angelique Kidjo, Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff, and Kenny Barron with honorary doctor of music degrees at Berklee College of Music’s commencement ceremony, Saturday, May 8, at the 7,000-seat Agganis Arena at Boston University. Commencement speaker Kenneth Gamble will address more than 860 Berklee graduates, their parents and invited guests.
This year’s honorary doctorate recipients are being recognized for their achievements and influence in music, and for their enduring contributions to American and international culture. Past recipients include Duke Ellington (the first, in 1971), Dizzy Gillespie, Smokey Robinson, Steven Tyler, Aretha Franklin, Juan Luis Guerra, Nancy Wilson, David Bowie, The Edge, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Michel Camilo, Chaka Khan, Loretta Lynn, Quincy Jones, Bonnie Raitt, and Ahmet Ertegun.
On commencement eve, as is Berklee’s tradition, students will pay tribute to the honorees by performing music associated with their careers at the Agganis. The concert and ceremony are not open to the public.
About the honorees:
Spain’s Paco de Lucia is one of the world’s greatest guitarists. The Latin Grammy winner is the most innovative and influential flamenco artist of his generation. His recordings have had a revolutionary impact, bringing flamenco music worldwide attention. Born into a family of flamenco guitar players and singers in Algeciras, Spain, de Lucia adopted the Gypsy lifestyle associated with flamenco, where community, improvisation and inspiration, rather then formal training, informed his playing.
De Lucia recorded his first album in 1968, made his debut at Carnegie Hall in 1970, and has recorded more than 30 albums. He has collaborated with a range of artists, from Spanish masters to American jazz and pop stars, including Ricardo Modrego, Camaron de la Isla, Larry Coryell, Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin, and Bryan Adams, on “Have You Ever Really Loved a Women.” He has defined his own influential sound by staying true to his flamenco roots while stretching his artistry by continuing to follow his inspirations, like a true gypsy. More detailed information at Paco de Lucia.
Grammy Award–winning Angelique Kidjo wears the title Africa’s premier diva, so deemed by Time magazine, proudly. Like Miriam Makeba before her, Kidjo is internationally renowned as Africa’s most celebrated female musical exponent. She has made her mark not only in music, but in humanitarian work including with her own Batonga Foundation, which provides educational aid to African girls. More information is available at Angelique Kidjo.
The singer, songwriter and dancer was born in Benin, and the music of her homeland has always been an ingredient in the mix of soul, r&b, jazz, and pop music on her numerous albums. Her newest CD, Oyo, is a mix of original songs and covers that pay tribute to the artists that have inspired her, like Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Carlos Santana, and James Brown. Bono, John Legend, Dianne Reeves, Roy Hargrove, and Lionel Loueke are just some of the collaborators who join her on the recording.
The Gamble & Huff songwriting and production team has churned out 70 #1 pop and r&b singles and collected 175 gold, platinum, and multiplatinum certificates. They have produced more than 3,500 songs and won five Grammy Awards. The 45-year partnership can be summed up in a phrase that brings to mind a canon of soul and dance hits that will forever be part of the sonic atmosphere: The Sound of Philadelphia.
Instantly recognizable singles on their Philadelphia International Records and other labels include “Love Train,” “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” “Me and Mrs. Jones,” and “If You Don’t’ Know Me By Now,” among many others. A wide range of artists have recorded their songs, from the O’Jays, the Supremes, Teddy Pendergrass, Lou Rawls, Wilson Pickett, and Patti LaBelle to Elivs Presley, the Jacksons, Heavy D and the Boyz, Simply Red, and Hall and Oates.
Composer, arranger and bandleader Kenny Barron has spent 50 years decades at the forefront of jazz piano aristocracy. He is an inductee into the National Endowment for the Arts prestigious Jazz Masters class of 2010, one of his many awards. The multiple Grammy nominee has released more than 40 albums as a leader. As a sideman, he was a member of Dizzy Gillespie’s quintet, and appeared with Chet Baker, Ron Carter, Stan Getz, and Joe Henderson, among others.
Barron was a music professor at Rutgers University from 1973 – 2000. His support of young musicians extends from inviting them to become his band members to bringing them into the studio to record on his albums. Willing to be challenged and seeking adventure in his projects throughout his career, Barron formed the group Sphere to pay tribute to Thelonious Monk, partnered with violinist Regina Carter as an improvisational duo, and immersed himself in Brazilian music for the album Canta Brasil.
Madrid, Spain – One of the greatest guitarists alive, Flamenco guitar innovator Paco de Lucía has won the 2004 Prince of Asturias award of the Arts. This is the most important and prestigious award of its kind given in Spain. The other contenders were American rock musician Bruce Springsteen, French dancer Maurice Béjart and British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Paco de Lucía [Francisco Sánchez Gómez], was born in Algeciras, Spain. He incorporated new elements to flamenco guitar and led the way to a new generation of Flamenco guitars wizards. Some of his most important recordings include Entre dos aguas (1981), Solo quiero caminar (1981), Paco de Lucía Sextet Live on One Summer Night (1985) and Siroco (1986). He has received numerous awards in Spain, such as two Premios de la Música and the Premio de Honor (in 2002), the top prize given annually by the Academia de la Música to exceptional musicians.
1. After several years living in Mexico, why have you decided to come back to Spain and settle in Toledo?
I decided to come to Toledo for several reasons. One of them is that it is close to Madrid, without the traffic jams of the capital. There is no stress here. Toledo is a town that takes you back in time. You go out for a walk through the streets and you come back home with a beautiful feeling of peacefulness, of living in a different time.
You remember about the Jews, the Arabs, the Visigoths, the Carthaginians, the Romans. All the people that once lived there…you can feel them everywhere in town. Thank God the construction companies [developers] didn’t pull down these places. Here I find the quietness that I need for working, composing, and getting inspired. I have always liked everything related to the Arab and Jewish worlds. I think that many of the people who lived here made a significant contribution to our culture- to the music of our country, for instance.
I found some Sephardic scores and there I noticed the great influence that this music has in Flamenco. I used to think that Flamenco was more influenced by the Arab culture, but I am pretty sure now that it is more linked to the Sephardic music made at Toledo at that time.
2. After five years of silence, what can you tell us about this new album called “Cositas Buenas” [Good things] and about your re-encounter with Camarón de la Isla and the cante [Flamenco song]?
Apparently this is just another album, but I always try and I have made my best this time to make it thealbum, as well as the album that finally satisfies me. I always search my personal satisfaction and not only try to satisfy those who buy my music. I have been isolated. I shut myself away for two years, trying to fix some gaps. I think that you evolve when you refill your gaps, when you overcome all those things that you consider as failures, things that you should not repeat. I have tried to be, as always, more and more flamenco and, at the same time, to go forward in terms of harmony and rhythmic composition. I have introduced voices, choruses, cantes… because I somehow miss the music that I used to make in the company of Camarón.
I have always thought that the guitar, playing as a soloist, was a little boring. What I would have really loved to do, and I have said this many times, would have been to sing. I would give everything I know as a guitar player for having been half of what Camarón was, who, by the way, is in this album. I have rescued some of the master copies of our old recordings.
There were takes that were not useful at the time and that’s when you couldn’t do what you do today with digital copies, with ProTools! I have rescued some lyrics that were not useful and we had discarded. So it was a delicate and complicated job, but I have been able to rescue a Camarón that seems so alive in this album.
There are several people singing in the album, such as a girl from Seville called La Tana, Montse Cortés, Diego El Cigala, Guadiana, El Potito, la Angela… There are very good professionals in this album. I think that it is worth buying. Come, come! Go to the stores and buy it!
4. One of the jewels in this album is the buleria called “Que venga el alba”, where you rescue Camarón de la Isla and you play together with Tomatito. How did you feel while recording this song?
The fact of having Camarón in the album is a blessing to me both at an artistic level and at an emotional one. To have him in the album is to go back to that past that I miss so much and that I long for. And El Tomate [Tomatito] could not be left out. He was a part of that past. We had a good time and we cried when listening to Camarón. It was like going back in time. After finishing the song, we listened to it and tears started to fall from our eyes. It was as if Camarón was
there, as if he had just gone to the bar for a cup of coffee.
Tomatito is a great guitar player, a great flamenco and a good aficionado of the guitar, which is a basic quality to any musician.
Musicians and cantaores [Flamenco singers] came to the studio to listen to what I was working on and one day came Dieguito El Cigala and asked me: “Paco! What am I going to sing in the album?” And I said: “I don’t know, Diego, let’s see what we have here”. And I found some tientos, some lyrics that I had made and that I had sung as a reference. He sang them beautifully. Diego was fantastic… beautiful lyrics.
Potito also stepped by, but he only had time to make a chorus. I would have loved to have him singing some lyrics solo but he was in a rush to get to Seville and we didn’t have time…but he won’t escape next time!
El Piraña plays very well. He is 20-21 years old and he has such rhythm and tempo, and such a balance when he plays that it seems as though he was an old veteran player. I am taking him to the USA as well as the bass-player called Alain Perez, who is Cuban and plays really well. These two boys are very young.
EI Negri, from La Barbería, is also coming, as well as La Tana, who is a cantaora from Seville who sings very well. She also performs in the album; so does her mother, Herminia, who also sings beautifully. And I am now looking for an Indian violinist. I came up with this idea at the last minute and I don’t know if I am going to be able to find one in time! That’s what I am working on right now.
5. Let’s talk about your collaboration with your friend Alejandro Sanz in the rumba called “Casa Bernardo”.
Yes, Alejandro is also in the album, but he couldn’t sing. The day he came to the studio he was hoarse because he had such a cold he couldn’t even talk. There was a Cuban “tres” in the studio, which is like a little guitar and he started playing it over a theme, a rumba, and he came up with some very pretty sounds. I would have liked him to have improvised as we went along because it would have been an original and new idea and he is able to improvise because as a musician, he has enough knowledge to do that. He is not a singer that learns his songs by heart and then repeats them parrot-fashion. Alejandro has the ability to improvise. He came and played his part in the album. It is like a little souvenir. What I wanted was for him to be there. So I have a souvenir of him.
6. Where have you composed this album?
I went to a very quiet place in the Yucatan, in Mexico where I have spent the last four years of my life. The house is in the middle of the rainforest where the weather is perfect. There is nobody there. You see a tourist every two days or so on the beach. The place is packed with flowers, birds… All the noise that you can hear is that made by the birds. Holy noise! I am allergic to big cities, cars, telephones, engagements and I thought that this was the perfect place to get into the well and search for something I hadn’t said before, musically speaking, I mean. So I spent two years there, working for eight or ten hours every day, trying to find something that you don’t find anymore in places where you are stressed out. Basically, it was about being in a quiet place. “Puja”, that’s the name of the little village. There I was with my guitar and the computer. It’s the first time I compose with the help of a computer. It is convenient when it comes to editing and changing parts without having to touch and repeat them, as I was used to do because I always worked with one of those little tape recorders or cassette players.
7. What is your relationship like with Universal Music, your record company?
The record company treats me well since I was a kid. They already know how it goes with me and they respect my time. They know that I cannot publish an album every year, as a singer might do, who is presented with twenty songs, picks up ten, so you can make a record every month. They know that I need the time to go by, that things have to happen to me, that I have to experience new feelings, so that the next time I get into a studio to record an album I have something to say, so that there is something new to say. And they have never really rushed me. They have always allowed me enough freedom in this respect. I have never felt pressured by record companies. They have always respected me in that sense. Not only now that I am consecrated as an artist and I enjoy certain prestige; this happens since I was a kid. I always imposed that condition. I told them that I couldn’t work with deadlines in order to make an album. In that respect, I have always felt very calm and completely free.
8. Who are your albums for?
When I start recording an album I never think about the commercial aspect of it, about an album that everyone is going to like because that is when you fall. When I start composing, what I want is to like myself. I try to be loyal to what I feel, and what I feel, since it is very specialized and very detailed, well, I imagine that it only touches the specialized people. I am very clear on that. I am who I am thanks to the four or ten persons that have done their best to tell everyone that I am a good player and maybe the rest of the people don’t specially dislike my music but maybe they do not get to understand what I do, as opposed to those ten persons, to say a number, who are the ones who really understand what I do. Suddenly, we might come up with something that touches more people, but I never do it with a business-like mentality. I am always loyal to what I feel and what I am.
9. Has flamenco music gone from marginal music to worldwide music?
Flamenco music was always very mistreated, always…Specially in our country [Spain].
Because, as it happens in many other places, indigenous music is not respected, it is not given enough consideration. Flamenco music was always said to be the music of the gypsies, of drunken people, of the Andalusian people, of people that for the mentality of the rich, the Grandes Señores [Lords], not of the Señores[gentlemen], was not fancy or distinguished.
Whatever comes from abroad always tends to be more appealing. I don’t think that Flamenco music is better understood right now than it was before. Maybe it is true that the minority who understands it has increased and, of course, the flamenco artist is given a better treatment. I remember my father who earned his life playing at nights for the señoritos [term to designate the rich stratum in Andalusian society], for the drunkards that suddenly felt like having a party and they went to a joint that was in my town, in Algeciras [Cadiz province], to a cabaret where there was a backroom where the four or ten flamencos [flamenco performers] that there were in town played and when some drunkard came and wanted to have fun, he would call the flamencos. That was the highest thing any flamenco musician could aspire to: to be hired by one of these people, that he got drunk with his whores and felt like having a party. My father would come back home with the 100 or 500 Spanish Pesetas [less than 1 / 3 euros, respectively] that the señorito had tipped him and we would have breakfast with that. It is not like that anymore, although there are still people who keep on earning a living playing at that kind of parties. But Flamenco music is now played in theaters, we make international tours, we give concerts in important theaters all around the world, it is much better seen socially as well as musically.
Music is being spread through the TV, the radio, the records, all the media, so it has reached the whole world and there has been a general acknowledgement all around the world, in all the countries where there are sensitive people and people who like music, people who are savvy in this matters, that recognize the values of Flamenco music.
10. Tell us about the growing interest in you and flamenco music in Japan.
I have been going to Japan since I was 16 or 17 years old, where theaters are always packed and very important ones… classical music theaters. For many years, Japan has considered Flamenco as a music that is of universal interest, as it actually is. I also consider that it is one of the most important types of music there are in the world. There are five o six kinds of music in the world that I consider interesting. Those are jazz music, classical music, Brazilian music, Cuban music, African music and Flamenco. Flamenco is one of these kinds of music and I don’t say it because it is the one that I live on, but because it is true.
That’s it. And yes, it has been highly considered in Japan for many years now, as it was in the United States and now, thank God, is also regarded as such throughout Europe and I would say that in the rest of the world, too. For instance, I play in countries and cities where no Flamenco musician had ever been before, not even I, and I find myself in theaters filled with people who are crazy about the music and then, when you finish your performance, there are hundreds of people at the doors with Flamenco albums in their hands… with my albums also, asking me to sign them. And I am talking about places like Taiwan or Singapore… places you would have never imagined.
Interview courtesy of Verve/Universal Music. The interview was made in Toledo (Spain) December 14, 2003 by Manolo Nieto. English translation edited by World Music Central.
Cositas Buenas (Universal Music Spain/Verve-Blue Thumb 80001939-02, 2004)
It has taken five years for the renowned Flamenco guitar master from Spain to release a new album and it has been worth the wait. After living several years in the Mexican coast, de Lucia has returned to Spain. He has moved to the historical city of Toledo, about an hour south of Madrid, and he has reconnected with Spain’s thriving Flamenco scene and gotten inspiration from Toledo’s ancient Christian, Arabic and Sephardic musical roots.
Cositas Buenas (Good Things) includes several bulerías, one of the most difficult to perform flamenco styles for guitar players. Although mainly instrumental, some of the pieces include some of the hottest young Flamenco vocalists, such as Montse Cortés, Potito, Diego El Cigala, Tana and Paco.Thanks to CD recording technology, the buleria “Que Venga el Alma” has united the voice of legendary singer Camarón de la Isla (who passed way a few years ago) and the guitars of Paco de Lucía and Tomatito. Gypsy guitarist Tomatito is another legend in the world of flamenco guitar. He was Camarón’s accompanist for many years and is one of Spain’s most famous guitarists.
Paco de Lucía plays lead Flamenco guitar on all the songs, accompanied by percussion, including palmas (Flamenco handclapping) and cajón (the Afro-Peruvian box instrument that has been adopted by many New Flamenco artists in Spain). Nevertheless, he also plays other stringed instruments, which are less common in Flamenco music, such as the Spanish lute, bouzouki and mandolin.
The last track on the album is “Casa Bernardo,” a rumba that shows another of de Lucía’s passion: jazz. It features American trumpet player Jerry González, who now lives in Madrid.