Tag Archives: Spain

Artist Profiles: Amir-John Haddad

Amir-John Haddad

German-Spanish musician Amir-John Haddad, better known as El Amir, was born in 1975 in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. He moved to Spain in 1997.

El Amir is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, musical director, and producer. He‘s considered one of the best concert guitarists in today‘s Spanish scene, defined by his personality, maturity, sound and style.

El Amir has been playing flamenco guitar and the Arabic oud since he was seven years old, and has been performing on stage for 30 years. In addition to his extensive career, he has learned how to play traditional Mediterranean instruments including the Greek bouzouki and Turkish saz, being a virtuoso in all of them.

Amir-John Haddad

El Amir has collaborated with a long list of artists including Radio Tarifa, Chambao, Marcus Miller and Juno Reactor.

In 2010, Amir-John presented his show “From East to West,” combining all the instruments he plays, Arabic lute, Turkish saz, Greek bouzouki, flamenco guitar and the triple-necked electric guitar to expose a wide range of traditional music. A trip through several regions of the Mediterranean, through different instruments and original compositions mixed with modern and contemporary sounds, fired through effects processors.

Amir-John Haddad

Amir-John Haddad was part of a Madrid-based world music superband called Zoobazar. Group members included El Amir on oud and saz; La Musgaña’s fiddler, Diego Galaz on fiddle and mandolin; La Shica’s and Eliseo Parra’s drummer and percussionist, Pablo Martin Jones on drums and percussion; and the bassist of rock band GN3, Hector Tellini.

Zoobazar

Zoobazar’s debut album, Uno (2011), was a mesmerizing journey across the musics of the Mediterranean countries, including Iberian folk music, Turkish, Balkan, Greek, Middle Eastern and North African grooves and tunes combined with rock, funk and jazz.

Zoobazar’s second album, Dos, came out in 2014.

In 2017, Amir John Haddad played Vivaldi’s Concerto in C major for Mandolin for the first time on Greek bouzouki. The debut took place on the 6th of November at the National Auditorium of Music in Madrid accompanied by outstanding musicians from the Spanish National Orchestra.

José María Bandera and Amir John Haddad

Another project in 2017 was a collaboration with Paco de Lucia’s nephew, José María Bandera. The two guitarists performed material from Paco’s last album, Canción Andaluza, including María de la O, Señorita, I have to love you while you live, Chiquita Piconera, Romance of Valentía and Ojos Verdes, by Quintero, León and Quiroga and other great composers. The show also featured Josemi Garzón on double bass and Israel Katumba on percussion.

Amir John Haddad

El Amir was one the featured solo artists of the Hans Zimmer’s Tour performing flamenco guitar, electric guitar, Greek buzuki and ukulele. “The World of Hans Zimmer – A Symphonic Celebration” presents the composer’s works arranged for a live symphony orchestra. Zimmer spent months working on transforming his soundtracks into opulent concert suites. interpreting a very special selection of soundtracks from the most famous films such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Gladiator, Mission Impossible, The Holiday or Madagascar.

Discography:

Pasando Por Tabernas ‎(Double Moon Records, 2005)
Uno, with Zoobazar (Santa Fe / Ojo! Records, 2011)
9 Guitarras ‎(Zoomusic, 2013)
Dos, with Zoobazar (Galileo Music, 2014)

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Artist Profiles: María Toro

María Toro

Spanish musician María Toro was born in 1979 in La Coruña, Spain. She is a respected flutist and flamenco-jazz composer whose career path has taken her across many countries in different continents over the years. Seven years after moving from her native Galicia to Madrid, in 2009, she joined an international flamenco company in Zurich, Switzerland.

Afterwards, she crossed the Atlantic to form part of the flamenco and jazz movement in New York City. Later, she settled in Rio de Janeiro in order to integrate her music with the effervescent musical sounds of the city.

In Switzerland, she started to compose her first album, A Contraluz, finally recorded in the United States in 2014 with renowned jazz performers in New York City. In 2016, while living in Rio de Janeiro, she recorded her second album, Araras, accompanied by great performers such as Hermeto Pascoal, who provided Brazilian rhythm to her proposal.

In 2017, Maria Toro returned to Madrid, where she continues composing and performing her musical repertoire throughout Spain and Europe.

Discography:

Jose Romero Project (2012)
A Contraluz (Jazz Activist, 2014)
Araras (Jazz Activist, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: María Terremoto

María Terremoto

María Fernández Benítez, better known as María Terremoto, was born in Jerez de la Frontera in 2000. She is part of a famous family of flamenco artists; her grandfather was Fernando Fernández Monge “Terremoto de Jerez” and her father is singer Fernando Fernández Pantoja “Terremoto.”

Since she was a child, María Terremoto has participated in many flamenco zambombas (Flamenco Christmas carols performed during Christmas in Jeerz) with her family, in which she unexpectedly became the central character of each performance. At nine years old, Maria was responsible for a crucial moment in her father’s life, the great Fernando Terremoto, when she performed on stage in the flamenco nightclub (tablao) that bears his name. That day will be evoked forever by all who were there, because unsuspectingly, Fernando passed the artistic torch to his daughter Maria in what would be his final farewell to the stage.

In mid-2014, at just fourteen years old, Maria began to make infrequent performances in Jerez. Progressively, she began to perform more often and traveled outside of Jerez, making her mark in the jondo (flamenco deep roots) scene.

Her big opportunity came in February 2016, during the significant Festival de Jerez. María gave a flamenco performance at the Palacio de Villavicencio that left everyone astonished. That moment generated unparalleled press acclaim for such a young artist. She was just sixteen years old.

This performance was the beginning of a tour of flamenco clubs and major festivals, such as the peñas de Huelva, Torres Macarena de Sevilla, La Niña de los Peines de Arahal, Casabermeja de Málaga , Pozoblanco, Baeza…and festivals such as Grazalema, Pedrera, Casariche, Pruna, La Caracolá Lebrijana and the Flamenco Fridays of Jerez, among many others.

María Terremoto – Photo by Paco Barroso

On September 22, 2016, Maria performed a concert at Seville’s Flamenco biennial that many have called historic. After numerous positive reviews, she was the youngest artist to ever be awarded the high-status ‘Giraldillo Revelación 2016’ prize, which catapulted her to the vanguard of the flamenco scene. In 2018 she received the prestigious ‘Venencia Flamenca’, an award given by the Flamenco community ‘El pozo de las penas’. After receiving this recognition, María made the rounds on the most prestigious stages throughout Spain.

María Terremoto released her first album: “La huella de mi sentío” (IR Music, 2018). The album was officially debuted at La Bienal de Flamenco de Sevilla.

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Artist Profiles: Lela Soto


Lela Soto

Lela Soto Heredia was born in 1992 in Madrid. She is one of the young flamenco voices with more projection of the current flamenco scene, heir to the legacy of La Casa de Los Sordera. Her father is Vicente Soto ‘Sordera’, and her mother, Luisa Heredia, is a dancer.

In addition to her orthodox flamenco roots, Lela Soto imbues her music with a more avant-garde flamenco and in her voice you can also appreciate influences from jazz, blues, salsa or R & B. She has collaborated with artists such as Alejandro Sanz, Pitingo, Navajita Plateá or Diego del Morao.

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Artist Profiles: Israel Fernández

Israel Fernández

Israel Fernández was born into a gypsy family in Corral de Almaguer (Toledo province, Spain).

He performs flamenco in its purest form. His passion, his art and his freshness have dazzled everyone, young and orthodox.

At 11 years old he began to take his first steps on stage, both in popular parties and on television. His flamenco is enriched by other types of music and styles.

His first record, recorded at 18, was produced by pianist Pedro Ojesto. At 21 years he had already collaborated with artists such as Raimundo Amador, José Mercé, Arcángel, and Tomasito; and performed in theaters and festivals around the world.

Discography:

Con Hilo De Oro Fino ‎(Universal Music, 2014)
Universo Pastora ‎(Universal Music, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Uxía

Uxía

Uxía Domínguez Senlle, better known as Uxía, was born November 19, 1962 in Sanguiñeda, Spain. She took on singing at an early age and despite having access to all types of music, she has always felt most strongly drawn to the music characteristic of her region. Her first CD with traditional Galician songs was released in 1986, a collaboration with musicians who went on to become members of her band, Na Lua.

After two more albums with this line-up, Uxia shifted the focus of her activities to live performances. She toured throughout Spain and the rest of Europe, through Cuba and Argentina and was a celebrated guest at various festivals worldwide.

These experiences not only intensified Uxia’s insight into the culture she represents but also brought her into contact with many representatives of other related folk music traditions. “Estou Vivindo No Ceo” (I live in heaven) was her first international release.

Discography:

Foliada de marzo (Edigal, 1986)
A estrela de maio, with Na Lúa (Edigal, 1987)
Ondas do mar de Vigo, with Na Lúa (GASA, 1989)
Entre cidades (Sons Galiza, 1991)
Estou vivindo no ceo (Nubenegra, 1995)
La sal de la vida (Nubenegra, 1997)
Danza das areas, (Virgin, 2000)
Cantos na maré (Nordesía, 2005)
Eterno navegar (World Village, 2008)
Meu canto (Fol Música, 2011)
Andando a terra (Fundación Manuel María, 2012)
Rosalía pequeniña (Galaxia/Sonárbore, 2013)
Baladas da Galiza imaxinaria (Edicións Damadriña, 2015)
Canta o cuco (Editorial Galaxia, 2015)
Uxía canta a Manuel María (Fundación Manuel María, 2015)
UXIA-O (Fundación Uxío Novoneyra, 2017)

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Artist Profiles: Na Lua

Na Lúa

Na Lúa was formed in the early 1980s in Porriño, Pontevedra, with the intention of dignifying traditional Galician music.

Since its inception, the group went ahead of the times when conceiving traditional music and folk music as elements of a contemporary music with a universal vocation.

Na Lúa assimilated influences from medieval music, Eastern Europe, Latin American rhythms, as well as sounds from Portugal, Ireland, Africa and Asia.

Throughout these years, Na Lua performed at the most significant musical events in Europe and received important awards.

Band members included: Cándido Lorenzo – gaita, clarinet, flutes; Xabier Camba – drums, percussion; Ricardo Pereiro – bajo, vocals; Antón Rodríguez – gaita, sax, flutes; and Xabier Debesa – accordion, vocals, percussion, programming.

Discography:

Na Lúa (Edigal, 1985)
A Estrela De Maio ‎(Edigal, 1987)
Ondas Do Mar De Vigo (Grabaciones Accidentales, 1988)
Contradanzas (Sons Galiza, 1991)
Peliqueiro ‎(Sons Galiza, 1994)
Os Tempos Son Chegados ‎(Do Fol, 1997)
Feitizo ‎(Do Fol, 1999)

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Artist Profiles: Rafael Riqueni

Rafael Riqueni – Photo by Mario Pacheco

Rafael Riqueni del Canto was born in the Triana barrio of Seville in 1962. He is one of the top guitarists in the world and belongs to the generation that comes after Paco de Lucía’s.
At the age of 15 he won the most prestigious national award for Flamenco guitar, the Ramón Montoya Award for concert guitar given in Córdoba. Riqueni continued his training performing at tablaos (Flamenco nightclubs) and accompanying famous Spanish singers and dancers. In 1981 Riqueni won another National award, this time in Jerez. As a result, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain commissioned him to play as a national representative.

In 1986 Riqueni recorded his first solo album performing his own compositions. Since then he has developed his career as a composer and solo performer, although he still accompanies some top Flamenco singers.

Riqueni’s technique is faultless and implacable. He’s got a very elegant touch, full of sensibility and astonishing and rich melodies that evoke the unmistakable aroma of the Triana neighborhood where he grew up.

Rafael Riqueni stopped performing and recording in 1997 due to health reasons. In 2011 he made a comeback, performing with various well-known artists at festivals and working on a new album.

Discography:

Juego De Niños (Nuevos Medios, 1986)
Flamenco (Flamencos Accidentales, 1987)
Mi Tiempo (Nuevos Medios, 1990)
Suite Sevilla ‎(JMS Records, 1993)
Maestros (Discos Probeticos, 1994)
Alcázar De Cristal (Auvidis Ethnic, 1996)
Parque De María Luisa ‎(Universal Music, 2017)

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Artist Profiles: Pata Negra

Pata Negra

Pata Negra was formed by the Amador brothers, Rafael and Raimundo, two wild Gypsy rockers from Seville. They were Flamenco’s number one rock fans. It could have been this feeling for rock that led Frank Zappa and Jerry Garcia to number themselves among their fans.

During Rafael and Raimundo’s teenage years, servicemen at a nearby US Air Force base in Morón de la Frontera provided an authoritative source for American rhythm and blues albums while their father and the rest of the Montoya family provided the deep schooling in Flamenco traditions.

The Amador brothers are two versatile guitarists who are just as comfortable playing blues with Flamenco guitars or Flamenco with electric guitars.

Pata Negra disbanded in 1991. Raimundo formed Flamenco rock band Arrajatabla in 1992, together with veteran rock guitarist Manglis.

Discography:

Pata Negra (Mercury, 1981)
Rock gitano (Mercury, 1982)
Guitarras callejeras (Nuevos Medios, 1985)
Blues de la frontera (Nuevos Medios, 1987)
Inspiración y locura (Nuevos Medios, 1990)
El directo (Nuevos Medios, 1994)
Como una vara verde (BMG, 1995)

‘ ‘Spain’ ‘Europe 1’

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Artist Profiles: Paco Peña

Paco Peña

Born in the Andalusian city of Cordoba, Paco Peña began learning guitar from his brother at the age of six and made his first professional appearance at the age of 12. In the late 1960s he left Spain for London, where his recitals of flamenco music captured the British public’s imagination.

Since 1970 Paco Peña has performed regularly with his own hand-picked company of dancers, guitarists and singers in a succession of groundbreaking shows. The Paco Peña Flamenco Dance Company has taken flamenco into the realm of music-theater with regular seasons in London (Royal Festival Hall, Sadler’s Wells Theatre and Barbican) and festival appearances in Edinburgh, Adelaide, Amsterdam, Athens, Israel, Istanbul, Singapore and Hong Kong.

1999 brought the most ambitious production yet: Musa Gitana. Peña based the piece on the life and work of another artist from Cordoba, the painter Julio Romero de Torres. Its seven-week season at the Peacock Theatre in London’s West End stands as the longest-ever run of a flamenco show and a further London season followed in Spring 2001.

Another landmark was Misa Flamenca, a 1991 setting of the Mass that juxtaposed Peña’s company with a classical choir. Its premiere at London’s Royal Festival Hall, given with the Choir of the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, was followed by a staging at the 1992 EXPO in Seville. Misa Flamenca has also been seen in Australia, New Zealand, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and the USA. Paco Peña has further plans to marry flamenco with the forms and forces of classical music.

Venues for his solo performances have included the intimate Ronnie Scott?s Jazz Club and the monumental Royal Albert Hall in London, New York’s Carnegie Hall and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. He has shared the stage with fellow-guitarists, singers and instrumental groups, bridging diverse musical genres, including classical, jazz, blues, country and Latin American.

In 1981 he founded the Centro Flamenco Paco Peña in Cordoba, later becoming Artistic Director of the Cordoba International Guitar Festival.

Paco Peña is based in London, but still spends a significant part of the year in his native Spain. In 1997 he was proud to be named Oficial de la Cruz de la Orden del Merito Civil, an honor bestowed by King Juan Carlos of Spain.

Discography:

The Incredible Paco Peña (Contour, 1968)
Carnival (Fontana, 1969)
Paco Peña Presents The Art Of Flamenco (CBS, 1970)
Flamenco Paco Peña (Fontana, 1970)
Flamenco Guitar (Philips, 1970)
The Art Of The Flamenco Guitar (London Records, 1972)
Fabulous Flamenco (Phase 4 Stereo, 1975)
Flamenco Festival (Decca, 1976)
Toques Flamencos (Musical New Services, 1976)
La Guitarra Flamenca (Decca, 1977)
The Flamenco World Of Paco Peña (Decca, 1978)
Flamenco Vivo Live In Munich (Aconcagua, 1981)
Fragments Of A Dream (CBS, 1987)
Flamenco Guitar Music of Ramón Montoya and Niño Ricardo (Nimbus Records, 1987)
Azahara – Flamenco Guitar Recital (Nimbus Records, 1988)
Leyenda (CBS, 1990)
Misa Flamenca (Nimbus Records, 1991)
The Art Of Paco Pena (Nimbus Records, 1993)
Flamenco Passion (Decca, 1997)
Arte y Pasión (Nimbus Records, 1999)
Flamenco Guitar (Nimbus Records, 2000)
A Flamenco Guitar Recital (Wigmore Hall Live, 2007)

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