Tag Archives: Spain

Artist Profiles: Razón de Son

Raúl Rodriguez, Razón de Son – Photo by Oscar Romero

Razón de Son is a creative research project that investigates the intercultural origin of early flamenco music. The research uses a double method of investigation: on one side the anthropological background and on the other musical experimentation.

Razon de Son aims to expand the musical storyline by tracing back to the deeply mestizo culture heir of the cultural crossover that occurred in the Afro-Caribbean colonies and the Andalusian ports of Seville and Cadiz between 16th and 19th centuries.

Raul Rodriguez creates new tunes and reinterpretations of the ancient Afro-Hispanic dances. He also introduced a new musical instrument that he calls the tres flamenco, combining Cuban son and flamenco toque which opens the possibilities of a new language: Son Flamenco.

Razon de Son also applies the latest historical and musical studies around the multiple sources that influenced flamenco music. This idea was developed over the last few years by several authors such as Faustino Nuez, Jose Luis Ortiz-Nuevo. J. L. Navarro Garcia and Santiago Auseron offering some of the most interesting perspectives around the basic fundamentals of the flamenco culture.
This new perspective not only shows new origins of Flamencos most deeply rooted traditions but also highlights the importance of the contribution of black music from the Andalusian ports of the XVI to XVIII centuries to flamenco music. Detailed studies show that the African dances already existed in the Spanish Golden Age and had a decisive influence on the development of many of the modern Flamenco dances thus opening up a path to follow in order to continue to discover new tools of expression new sones for the future.

In 2003. Raul Rodriguez founded the celebrated band Son de la Frontera featuring for the first time the Cuban tres in Flamenco in an homage work to Diego del Gastor. He produced both albums of the band for Nuevos Medios: Son de la Frontera (2004) and Cal (2006). The band got international reputation receiving several awards as Flamenco Hoy 25 Best Instrumental Album, BBC Radio World Music Awards as Best European Album 2008. Son de la Frontera toured worldwide and played in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, La Habana Miami, Mexico DF, Montreal, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, etc. from 2003 to 2008.

Razon de Son is Raul Rodriguez’s continuation of his musical research of early flamenco.

Line-up: Raul Rodriguez – tres cubano; Mario Mas – Spanish guitar; Aleix Tobias on percussion; and Guillem Aguilar – bass

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Artist Profiles: Ray Heredia

Ray Heredia – Photo by Mario Pacheco

Ray Heredia was one of the most charismatic of the “young flamencos”. He combined Flamenco and Gypsy rumba with Caribbean salsa and jazz. He died prematurely in Madrid the 14th of July of 1991 at the age of 27 a month after his first solo album Quien no Corre Vuela was released.

Heredia was part of a Gypsy family from Madrid with a long musical tradition. Son of the dancer Josele, Ray started performing as a child. At 12 he registered his first recording at a studio and his career developed collaborating in recordings by Flamenco artists such as Camaron, El Chato de la Isla and Enrique de Melchor.

Notwithstanding that he grew up in a Flamenco environment he always showed a great interest in other kinds of music. He himself remembered that at the beginning of his musical career when he was not at a “tablao” (Flamenco nightclub) he spent hours with his ear glued to a radio trying to assimilate all kind of influences.

His anxiety lead him to be the real instigator of Ketama the band that he formed together with the Carmona brothers and Jose Soto Sorderita. Ketama’s debut album ignored at its time by the media showed the brilliance of New Flamenco and was praised by such different people as David Byrne, Jack Nicholson and Angelica Houston.

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Artist Profiles: Ramón Montoya

Ramón Montoya

Ramón Montoya Salazar is considered a genius by most Flamenco guitarists. He was born November 2, 1879. Some biographies mention he was born near Toledo (Spain), while others indicate his birthplace as Madrid, Spain.

As a child he visited Madrid’s influential Cafe de la Marina, watching guitarists play. The key moment came when he met the most important classical guitarist of that time Miguel Llobet.

Ramón Montoya recorded his first solo piece as a soloist in 1936 in Paris, at the age of 56. Until then Montoya had only recorded as accompanist.

Ramón Montoya died July 20, 1949 in Madrid, Spain.

Discography:

Flamenquistas volume II (Stinson Records, 1962)
Arte Clasico Flamenco. Un Maestro De La Guitarra (Hispavox, 1971)
Le Vrai Flamenco Instrumental ‎(Disc’Az, 1974)
Great Masters of Flamenco, Vol .5 – Grandes Figures Du Flamenco (Le chant du Monde, 1996)
El Genio De La Guitarra Flamenca (2003)
Maestro De La Guitarra Flamenca ‎(Calé Records, 2011)

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Artist Profiles: Radio Tarifa

Radio Tarifa – Photo by Javier Salas

Throughout the southern coast of Spain one can easily listen to popular North African music by tuning numerous Moroccan and Algerian radio stations across the strait of Gibraltar. Tarifa is the southernmost town in Europe from which you can see the African continent on any clear day and listen to the Moroccan muezzins at sundown calling for prayer.

Radio Tarifa was the brainchild of Faín Dueñas, a former electric guitarist who realized that playing Anglo-Saxon rock wasn’t leading him anywhere. Instead he sought new paths and learned about other kinds of music from foreign and southern Spanish musicians. He became a specialist in African and Arabic percussion as well as in string instruments from the lute family such as the Turkish cümbüs, the guimbri, sentir, ud and Flamenco guitar.

The rest of the core group was formed by the late Flamenco cantaor Benjamín Escoriza from Granada and reed/flute player Vincent Molino from France. The group’s albums feature numerous guests and the live band included some of Spain’s finest world music players.

Spanish folk and world music veteran, producer, painter and photographer Juan Alberto Arteche produced the group’s first album, Rumba Argelina (Algerian rumba) for his eclectic Música Sín Fín label. Arteche later sold the rights to BMG Spain who in turn licensed it to World Circuit in Great Britain.

Rumba Argelina was an international success thanks to its lively pieces with a Medieval Spanish, North African and Flamenco feeling to it. The reeds heard on the album are not a Middle Eastern instrument but a Renaissance crumhorn played by Vincent Molino. Flamenco cantaor Benjamín Escoriza, from Granada, provided the Andalusian flavor while Faín Dueñas used atypical instruments such as the Gnawan guimbri (a string instrument), the North African darbuka drum and the Turkish tar frame drum.

Discography:

Rumba Argelina (Música Sín Fín, 1993)
Temporal (USA: Nonesuch/Europe: World Circuit, 1998)
Cruzando el Río (USA: Nonesuch/Europe: World Circuit, 2000)
Fiebre (BMG-Spain, 2003)

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Artist Profiles: Pere Joan & Manel Martorell

Pere Joan & Manel Martorell

The Martorell brothers, Pere Joan and Manel have been active in the traditional dance festivals in the villages of Mallorca (Spain) since they were very young. In 1993 they made their first performance as musicians at La Real festival and since then they have become an established duo performing regularly both in Mallorca and abroad.

They have been members of a number of groups playing traditional Majorcan music including Voramar, The Xeremiers (pipers) of Son Roca and Al-Mayurqa and they have been featured on a number of CDs released by these groups. They play a variety of different traditional instruments including Majorcan bagpipes, pipe and tabor, guitar, lute and archlute.

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Artist Profiles: Ojos de Brujo

Ojos de Brujo in 2002

Ojos de Brujo was a flamenco roots band based in Barcelona, Spain. The band caused a stir in international music circles in 2003-2004 with its flamenco fusion. The group whose name means ‘witch eyes’ created a popular mix of flamenco with funk, samba, reggae and other forms of world music. One of Spain’s most popular live musical acts at the time, the group was composed of musicians on flamenco guitar, bass and percussion; a DJ and a dancer and featured the captivating lead vocals of Marina Abad.

Said Xavi Turull the group’s percussionist: “We live in Barcelona and we live strong – always out in the streets so we’ve always lived rumba catalana and flamenco puro really strongly. But when Marina came into the group we became even more focused on flamenco. Our roots got stronger and we became more confident when we experimented with other styles. We became more solid – more of a band.”

The second album Bari took its name from a word in Caló – the Gypsy (Roma) dialect of Spain – that means roughly ‘finding the groove in life’ – the same way you do in music. Xavi Turull explained: “Bari is a word that Ramon, who’s Gypsy, picked up from his grandmother. It’s kind of like the feeling that everything in life is working right. That everything feels good.”

Techari came out in 2006 and was released in North America on February 2007 on Six Degrees Records. It is an ambitious self-produced journey recorded both abroad in Cuba and New York as well as in a studio at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains close to the birthplace of Salvador Dali. “One of the pressures of success is to look for ways to stay true,” said Xavi Turull. “And we are really trying to find a way to be free. That’s why the new album is called Techari because it means ‘free’ in the gypsy language.”

Work on Techari started at the end of March 2005 and was completed at the end of October. In between the band did two international tours which stop-started the recording process. “Recording and touring at the same time was a little crazy but the result is amazing,” added Xavi. “We are finally at a point where the sound is exactly the way we want.”

Special guests included Faada Freddy from Senegalese hip hop collective Daara J, Asian Dub Foundation’s Prithpal Rajput and Nitin Sawhney, South Indian fusion artist and British TV star (who returned the favor after Ojos de Brujo collaborated on two tracks for his album Philtre).

Cuban pianist Roberto Carcasses also made an appearance alongside respected flamenco guitarist Pepe Habichuela and Cuban tres/flamenco guitar player Raul Rodriguez from Son de la Frontera.

Cuban drums were used in bulerias, funk was layered onto rumba catalana and dhol drums add an Eastern flavor to the mix. However the band was quick to point out that these collaborations were the result of new friendships and not any cynical marketing strategy.

The Techari bonus CD-ROM featured work from fourteen illustrators from around the world, each represent the individual nature of the fourteen tracks fifteen translations of lead singer Marina’s emotionally-charged lyrics and three full-length videos.

 

 

 

Lenacay, Calima, Marinah and Kejaleo are bands started by former Ojos de Brujo members.

Discography

Vengue (1999)
Bari (2002)
Bari: Remezclas de la Casa (2003)
Techari­ (2006)
Techari­ Live (2007) CD/DVD
Techari­ Remixes (2007)
Aocana (WEA Spain, 2009)
Corriente vital 10 años (WEA Spain, 2010)

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Artist Profiles: Pepe Habichuela

Pepe Habichuela

José Antonio Carmona Carmona, better known as Pepe Habichuela, was born in Granada (Spain) in 1944. The guitar has always been present in the Habichuela dynasty. Pepe Habichuela’s grandfather, Tio José Habichuela and father Juan Carmona Habichuela played the guitar and all his brothers are professional players. His son is Josemi Carmona, who along with Pepe’s nephews, founded innovative flamenco fusion group Ketama.

As many other guitarists Pepe Habichuela’s professional career started as accompanist to well-known cantaores (singers) like Camarón de la Isla. His collaboration with the great cantaor Enrique Morente meant a giant step for modern Flamenco. Pepe Habichuela participated in several of Morente’s superb albums: Se hace camino al andar, Homenaje a Don Antonio Chacon and Despegando.

Since 1980 Pepe Habichuela has been giving concerts as a soloist. Pepe Habichuela’s first solo album was a tribute to his grandfather.

Pepe has gone beyond traditional Flamenco guitar by adding bass, percussion and Jazz elements to his compositions. His interest in Jazz has led him to collaborations with jazzmen Don Cherry and David Holland. He has also explored the connections between flamenco and Indian music collaborating with Nithin Sawhney, Anoushka Shankar and The Bollywood Strings.

Discography:

Homenaje a D. Antonio Chacón, with Enrique Morente ((Hispavox, 1976)
Despegando (CBS, 1977)
A Mandeli (Nuevos Medios, 1983)
Habichuela en Rama (Nuevos Medios, 1997)
Yerbagüena, with The Bollywood Strings (Nuevos Medios NM15788, 2001)
Hands, with Dave Holland (Dare2 Records, 2010)

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Artist Profiles: Muxicas

Muxicas

Muxicas was one of the great innovators in Galician folk music. The group was formed in 1978 with the intention of developing and updating Galician roots music. In its first recording Muxicas combined traditional music with new tunes with a distinct Galician flavor. In 1986 Muxicas revolutionized Galician music combining for the first time bagpipes with different tunings hurdy gurdys and an amazing assortment of native percussion instruments. The vocals were added in 1987.

Even though Muxicas created new arrangements for many ancient songs it tried to stay away from imported modern arrangements.

Musicians:

Manolo Rin-Rin – drum, frame drum, sea shells
Xurxo Cabaleiro – tambourine, frame drum
Liao Figueroa – bagpipes, percussion
Xose Manuel Fernandez – pipes, flutes, zanfona (hurdy gurdy), percussion
Maria Xose Lopez – vocals, zanfona, pipes
Emilio O Sisto – drum, tambourines
Magoia Bodega – bagpipes, accordion

Discography:

Parolada (Edigal 1982)
Muxicas (Edigal 1986)
O Demo Fungon (Edigal 1988)
Desafinaturum (Edigal 1990)
Escoitando Medra-la Herba (Edigal 1992)
No Colo do Vento (Clave Records 1996)
Naturalmente (Clave Records)

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Artist Profiles: Milladoiro

Early lineup of Milladoiro

 

Combining Celtic melodies, medieval music jazz and contemporary music, Milladoiro modernized traditional Galician folk music and started a revival movement among young musicians. They are still its most renowned practitioners drawing huge crowds throughout Europe.

Milladoiro is the Galician name for the heaps of stones built by shepherds. The group was formed in Santiago de Compostela (Spain), the final stop on the historic Saint James pilgrimage route (Camino de Santiago) and today also a thriving college town. The seven group members met at the university bringing with them a variety of musical backgrounds.

Fernando “Nando” Casal, Ramón García Rei “Moncho” and Xosé Ferreiros played together in Faíscas do Xiabre, a traditional music band born on the banks of river Ulla in Catoira. They recorded a beautiful record titled In Memoriam. They played traditional Galician music as wandering minstrels in native costume at fiestas and traditional festivals gathering experience by listening to old ‘gaiteiros’ (bagpipers) and learning from other traditional bands like Os Campaneiros, Os Irmáns Garceiras, Os Areeiras, and Os Rosales.

Rodrigo Romani and Antón Seoane were students of medieval music traveling through Galicia seeking the craftsmen who still built the offspring of instruments from the middle age like the zanfona (hurdy-gurdy), the citola and the freixolé. Those were times of scarcity and enthusiasm was a testimony of a hard reality. As a fruit of their work the record Milladoiro was released in 1978.

Xosé Méndez came from a jazz background and used to spend his time at musical libraries in cathedrals and old archive buildings. He was starting the core of what later would be the Grupo de Cámara da Universidade de Compostela. Milladoiro became six with the incorporation of Xosé A. Méndez. They just had to find a violinist, a nearly impossible task in Galicia in those times but emigration was generous and gave back to the country somebody who had left one day: Laura Quintillán, violinist in Milladoiro in 1979-1980. Later, Michel Canada who played in a pop band joined the band after Laura’s departure and played with Milladoiro until 1991. Antonio Seijo has been Milladoiro’s fiddler since then.

In the year 2000, Rodrigo Romaní left the group. At that time two musicians, harpist Roi Casal and guitar player Manu Conde joined the band.

The 2006 CD Unha estrela por guia is a tribute to poet Manuel Maria. It is Milladoiro’s first fully vocal CD. The songs are based on poems from Maria’s works: “Terra Che”, “Cancions do Lusco ao Fusco”, “As rias do vento ceibe”, “Soneto casa de Hortas”, “Cantigas” and “A Rosalia”. In addition to Milladoiro’s vocals there are several guests: Laura Amado, Leilia, actors Luis Tosar and Mabel Rivera.

The compilation XXV was released in 2005 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the band.

 

Milladoiro in 2013

 

The lineup in 2013 included Xosé V. Ferreirós on gaita (bagpipe), oboe, tin whistle, mandolin, uillean pipes, bouzouki, pandereta; Nando Casal on gaita, clarinet, tin whistle, pandereta; Moncho García on percussion; Xosé A. F. Méndez on flutes; Antón Seoane on accordion, zanfona, acoustic guitar, keyboards; Harry. C on fiddle; and Manú Conde on acoustic guitar and bouzouki.

 

Discography:

Milladoiro (Ruada 1978)
A Galicia de Maeloc (Ruada 1979)
O Berro Seco (Ruada 1980)
Milladoiro 3 (CBS 1982)
Solfafria (CBS 1984)
Galicia no Pais das Maravillas (CBS 1986)
Divinas Palabras ( ION 1987)
Castellum Honesti (Ariola/Green Linnet 1989)
Galicia no Tempo (Discmedi/Green Linnet 1991)
A Via Lactea (Cormoran 1993)
A Xeometria da alma (Cormoran 1993)
Iacobus Magnus (Discmedi 1994)
Gallaecia Fulget (Cormoran 1995)
As Fadas de Estraño Nome (Discmedi 1995)
No Confin dos Verdes Castros (1999)
Auga De Maio (Discmedi 1999)
Cabana de Bergantiños (1999)
O Niño do Sol (2002)
Adobrica Suite (2002)
XXV (2005)
Unha estrela por guia (2006)
A quinta das lagrimas (2008)
Milladoiro en Ortigueira (2016)

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Artist Profiles: Mestisay

Olga Cerpa (Mestisay)

Mestisay is a popular group in Spain’s Canary Islands. They were innovative experimental and eclectic while maintaining a strong connection to their folk traditions. Their lyrics were evocative of life’s special quality on these islands steeped in a unique mix of Spanish and transatlantic with a flavor of Africa borne on the dry wind that comes in from the East.

The album La Rosa de los Vientos (the rose of the winds) is like a kaleidoscope of all those traditions that have influenced the culture of the Canary Islands: among others Portuguese fado African percussion and Cuban bolero. Through their songs Mestisay gives homage to such artists as Ellis Regina Astor Piazzolla and Mercedes Sosa.

La Rosa de los Vientos features the track Sangueo an original from Equatorial Guinea which was translated with the help of “Hijas Del Sol” (The Daughters of the Sun) Piruchi and Paloma.

In some of their albums the group explores the strong ties of the Canary Islands with countries in the Americas with a large number of immigrants from tghe Carty Island such as Venezuela and Cuba.

The group is led by renowned vocalist Olga Cerpa.

Discography:

Canciones de las dos orillas (CCPC, 1989)

El cantar viene de viejo (Manzana, 1992)

Querido Néstor (CCPC, 1994)

La Rosa de los vientos (Nubenegra, 1996)

Viento de la isla (EMI-Odeon, 1998)

Mestisay (Sintonia, 2001)

Canciones del Sur (Ibermemory, 2003)

Toda una vida (2005)

Poeta en la isla (Factoria Autor, 2006)

Querido Néstor II (2006)

El Cabaret del Capitan Varela (La Central, 2008)

Pequeño fado y otras canciones de amor (La Central, 2009)

Atlantico Radio (Mestisay, 2012)

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