Tag Archives: Spanish music

Interview with Spanish Stringed Instrument Master Juan José Robles

Juan José Robles

Spanish multi-instrumentalist Juan José Robles has a superb new album titled In-Quietud (Restlessness). Robles uses a wide range of stringed instruments from Spain and beyond. He discusses his career and new album with World Music Central.

How and when did you start working professionally in the music world?

I decided to make my own music after several years playing for others or being part of groups. Once I recorded my first album and saw that it had very good acceptance and reviews, that is when I decided to bet on this, even if it is a “spike and shovel” and the road is not easy.

What do you think are the fundamental elements of your musical style?

Throughout my musical career, I have gone through traditional, classical, folk, blues, flamenco music … and all this has stayed with me. Perhaps that is why, those who listen to my music, think that I have generated my own language from that hodgepodge; and that is recognizable to hear it.

How has your musical expression evolved over the years?

Well, over the years my level of self-demand has grown, all my songs pass several listening filters until they definitely arrive at the studio, I carefully and meticulously select what I like and what I don’t, I eliminate it right away.

Juan José Robles – In-Quietud

What does the title of your In-Quietud album mean?

I have lived situations and moments where I have been too restless, altered, uneasy…., And those situations have led me to a hangover that has generated a pleasant stillness; in those two states is where all the songs on this album have appeared.

Tell us a little about In-Quietud .

It is a continuity of my previous album “Tiempo de espera” (2016), where new structures and elements appear that, as I said before, I have carefully selected. It is also a claim of instrumental music as a form of expression, with as much force as that which bears a voice. On the other hand, traditional music is one of the sources from which I drink, hence I wink at two pieces of my land, Murcia, which I really wanted.

Juan José Robles – Photo by Gerardo C. Saura

In your In-Quietud album you play several types of stringed instruments from the guitar and lute family. Tell us about the following instruments and their differences: octavilla, Valencian guitar, tenor guitar.

The octavilla is a 12-string instrument, with 6 courses, which is located in the area that borders Castilla La Mancha with the Valencian Community; is a mainly melodic instrument and its loudness is of medium-acute timbres. The Valencian guitar has 5 strings, which are usually made of nylon, and is used to rip with chords in traditional music, being its acute sound range. The tenor guitar has 10 strings, with 5 courses, and is widely used to accompany with chords in the traditional formations of the [Spanish] peninsular southeast, such as Murcia and Almeria, and its sound range is medium.

In addition to the instruments mentioned above, you also play guitars, bouzouki, bandurria and lute. How do you decide which instrument you will use in each track? Which one do you like the most?

These four instruments are those with which I usually compose almost everything and the decision is easy, since I usually respect the instrument with which I compose the subject. And regarding tastes for an instrument, let’s say it goes through times, I currently give more attention to the bouzouki and the lute, although I never stop playing the guitar and the mandolin.

Juan José Robles

Who manufactures your string instruments?

The lute is by Diego Gallego (Murcia), the bouzouki is by Carlos do Viso (Vigo), the mandolin and octave guitar by Tomás Leal (Casasimarro, Albacete), the bandurria by Javier Rojo (Madrid) and the guitar by Juan Azorín (Molina de Segura, Murcia).

Do you keep or collect stringed instruments?

I used to collect them, but then I decided to be pragmatic and I only keep the ones I use, which add up to 12.

Would you like to play some other stringed instrument from some other region of Spain or other cultures?

Yes, my pending subject is the zanfona [hurdy gurdy], which I already had one and played it some time ago; although I got rid of it to buy a flamenco guitar. So it may be my next goal.

Do you give classes or workshops?

Yes, I teach guitar, lute, bandurria and guitar classes permanently in a popular music school; and also music workshops and traditional Murcian song with Carmen María Martínez Salazar.

Which musicians of the new generations in your area deserve the attention of root music lovers in general?

The world of traditional music around the peninsular southeast, lately is closely related to meetings of traditional formations (crews, rounds, pandas, …). These have always been formed by older people, but today there are many young people and children paying close attention to this sociocultural movement and some with great talent, where great vocals and string players stand out.

If you could bring together the musicians or groups that fascinate you most to record a record or collaborate live, who would you call?

Of course I would stay with the band that accompanies me live: Enrique González and Óscar Esteban on percussion, Pablo Orenes on double bass, Tóbal Rentero on the laúd, guitarro and dulzaina, and José Antonio Aarnoutse and Constantino López on guitars; the latter also producer of the album. And I would call singers Carles Dènia and Rocío Márquez; cavaquinho player Luis Peixoto; Diego Galaz and Jorge Arribas (Fetén Fetén) to play violin and accordion and Efrén López on zanfona.

What other projects are you working on?

I am part of Mujeres con Raíz, a group of traditional Murcian music and I am still working on an upcoming job, which we must start from now.

More about Juan José Robles and his discography.

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Artist Profiles: Juan José Robles

Juan José Robles

Juan José Robles Mayol started his musical career as a child in rondallas (ensemble of stringed instruments) and folk bands in his his hometown, Alhama de Murcia, in southeastern Spain, playing the Spanish guitar, the lute and the bandurria.

At fifteen, he and his colleagues they founded the folk-rock group Malvariche, with whom he recorded three albums: “La Leyenda” (1992), “Que llueva, que llueva” (1995) and “En concierto” (1997).

From 2002 to 2008, he was part of the Camerata Aguilar orchestra, an ensemble with which he ventured into classical music. He participated in two of their recordings: “Scaramouche” (2003) and “Los Aguilar” (2008).

In 2007 he received the Professional Music Degree, in the specialty of plectrum instruments, at the Professional Conservatory of Music of Murcia.

In 2008, he became part of Manuel Luna’s Cuadrilla Maquilera. He participated in the band’s “Por Parrandas” (2010) and “Viajes Sonoros” (2016) recordings; and also performed with La Banda del Pepo, where he experimented with instruments such as saz, cümbüs and zanfona, among others.

In 2015, he founded with other colleagues, the traditional Murcian music group Mujeres con Raíz, with whom he recorded “Las edades de la vida” (2017).

Juan José Robles

His solo career began in 2016, with the self-release “Tiempo de espera”, focused on the instruments that always accompanied him in his long career. This first work was well received by the public and the media specialized in traditional and folk music. The lineup included Juan José Robles on various string instruments; Enrique González on percussion; Óscar Esteban on tambourine; Pablo Orenes on acoustic and electric bass; Constantino López on acoustic guitar and mandola; Jero Galián on Spanish guitar; Pepe Ludeña on violin; José Antonio Aarnoutse on flamenco guitar; Dani Valera on palmas; Carlos Beceiro on zanfona; Roberto Cubero on mandolin; and Carmen María Martínez Salazar and Jaime Lafuente on vocals.

“Tiempo de espera” was presented at the inaugural gala of the EXIB 2016 (Ibero-American Music Expo), in Évora (Portugal), sharing the stage with Portuguese artists Luís Peixoto, João Afonso and Celina Da Piedade, among others.

Juan José Robles at EXIB – Photo by Angel Romero

Between 2017 and 2018, he participated in the farewell tour of Paco Muñoz and in 2018 in Simfonic by Pep Botifarra & Pau Chafer.

In 2019, Juan José Robles released the album In-Quietud.

Discography:

La Leyenda, with Malvariche (1992)
Que llueva, que llueva, with Malvariche (1995)
En concierto, with Malvariche (1997)
Scaramouche, with Camerata Aguilar (2003)
Los Aguilar, with Camerata Aguilar (2008)
Por Parrandas, with Manuel Luna y la Cuadrilla Maquilera (2010)
Viajes Sonoros, with Manuel Luna y la Cuadrilla Maquilera (2016)
Tiempo de espera (Juan José Robles, 2016)
Las edades de la vida, with Mujeres con Raíz (2017)
In-Quietud (Juan José Robles, 2019)

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Artist Profiles: Rosalía

Rosalía

Rosalía Vila Tobella, better known as Rosalía, was born on 25 September 25, 1993 in San Esteban de Sasroviras, Spain.

The Spanish singer-songwriter is known for her trailblazing flamenco crossover sound, fusing flamenco with electronic beats, reguetón and other modern elements.

Her first album was the critically acclaimed “Los Ángeles ” released in 2016. It was followed by her groundbreaking “El Mal Querer ,” released in 2018.

Rosalía

Her song “Malamente” won Best Alternative Song and Best Urban Fusion/Performance at the 2018 Latin Grammy awards.

In 2019, Rosalía collaborated with James Blake on his new album, appeared in Pedro Almodóvar’s film “Dolor y Gloria”, and released a highly successful single titled “Con Altura (with J Balvin and El Guincho).”

Rosalía received the 2019 MTV European Music Award for Best Collaboration for her song “Con altura,” a joint effort with producer J Balvin (Spain) and El Guincho (Colombia). During her performance at the award ceremony in Seville, Rosalia put on an innovative, spectacular show, turning the stage into a tablao (flamenco nightclub) full of dancers and singers.

Discography:

Los Ángeles (Universal Spain, 2017)
El Mal Querer (Sony, 2018)

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The Remarkable Nyckelharpa of Toledo

Ana Alcaide

Spanish vocalist, nyckelharpa player and composer Ana Alcaide performed at the RaInforest World Music Festival on Saturday, July 13 at the Theatre Stage.

Ana Alcaide

Ana’s music encapsulates Spanish traditional music, Sephardic traditions and global music influences. She and some of her colleagues live in Toledo, an ancient city and UNESCO World Heritage that used to be the capital of Spain before it moved to nearby Madrid.

Three cultures lived in Toledo during the Middle Age: Christians, Jews and Muslim Moors. Ana Alcaide draws from this deep historic well and delighted the audience in Sarawak with her captivating vocals and enthralling nyckelharpa, a remarkable Swedish instrument that has adapted well to Spanish traditions.

The band featured Spain-based musicians from Germany and the United States: Rainer Seiferth on guitar and Bill Cooley on darbuka, frame drum and psaltery; and Spanish musician Bruno Duque on clarinet and ney.

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SGAE Foundation and Flamenco Festival to Present FlamencoEñe and JazzEñe Rising Talent in London

Guitarist David Carmona at the most recent edition of ‘FlamencoEñe’. Photo by Jesús Domínguez / Fundación SGAE

The SGAE Foundation continues to collaborate with Flamenco Festival London as part of its FlamencoEñe and JazzEñe programs to internationalize Spanish music. Specifically, the Foundation will present performances by Spanish artists Kiki Morente and
David Carmona (July 12), participants in the most recent edition of FlamencoEñe; and Antonio Lizana (July 11), who was selected in the 4th JazzEñe showcase in 2017. Both showcases brought together a series of foreign performing arts presenters and promoters with a selection of flamenco musicians from Spain.

The initiative of the SGAE Foundation has opened the doors of the international circuit to these three artists who will export their talent within the official program of the Flamenco Festival London 2019, which will be held in London from July 2 to 14. Antonio Lizana, Kiki Morente and David Carmona will be part of the roster that the Flamenco Festival has designed for different stages throughout London. This is a privilege for these rising artists as they will perform alongside veteran and renowned artists such as Sara Baras, Miguel Poveda, Rocío Molina, Olga Pericet, Jesus Carmona and Maria Terremoto.

Renowned saxophonist and singer Antonio Lizana will open JazzEñe’s program in London on July 11 (8:00 pm) at the Cervantes Theater, 229 Union St, London. Lizana will present to the British public the songs of his most recent album: Oriente.

The FlamencoEñe showcase in London will begin on July 12, at 6:00 pm, at the Lilian Baylis Studio (183 Rosebery Ave, Clerkenwell, London) will be the debut of flamenco guitar virtuoso David Carmona and his show Un sueño de locura (A Dream of Madness).

Two hours later (8:30 pm) the youngest of the Morente dynasty, Kiki Morente will perform in the same space to present the Albayzín show, a tribute to his father, Enrique Morente, and the neighborhood of Granada where he grew up, in which he will be accompanied by dancer Irene Rueda.

More about the SGAE Foundation and Flamenco Festival London.

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Artist Profiles: Fabiola Perez ‘La Fabi’

Fabiola Pérez – “La Fabi”

Fabiola Pérez, better known as “La Fabi”, was born on May 25, in Arcos de la Frontera (Cádiz). She grew up in the Barrio Bajo neighborhood, began to sing to the public at 11 years old and has not stopped since.

Her mother discovered her vocal skill. Fabiola started singing at a young age, was always singing and did it well. Her parents supported her from the very beginning.  

La Fabi started singing in Festivals and Flamenco clubs when she was only eleven years old. She spent time with the Ballet Flamenco de Andalucia, an essential part of her career.

Fabiola Pérez – “La Fabi”

She collaborated with well-known dancers using a percussive vocal style and participated in several albums by noteworthy artists such as Enrique el Extremeño, Manuel Parrilla and Antonio Rey.

Her style is expressive, intense and energetic, one of the finest voices in the current flamenco scene.

 In late 2018, La Fabi released her album “Fruto y Flores“. The album features guitarists José Serrano, Paco Heredia and Tomatito, Israel Suárez “El Piraña” on percussion, Bernardo Parrilla on violin, Nene Maya on bass and Zambullo and Ezequiel “Nano” on backing vocals and palmas (handclap percussion).

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Mara Aranda Releases Sefarad en el corazón de Turquía

Mara Aranda – Sefarad en el corazón de Turquía

Spanish singer Mara Aranda has released “Sefarad en el corazón de Turquía” , the second volume of a pentalogy titled “Diaspora”, dedicated to the Judeo-Spanish traditions of Morocco, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria and the former Yugoslavia. The first album of the series “Sefarad en el corazón de Marruecos” was awarded “Best of Europe 2017” by the Transglobal World Music Chart.

Sefarad en el corazón de Turquía” (Sefarad in the Heart of Turkey) reflects the common past of the cultures on the Iberian peninsula that traveled with the exiled communities to their new destinations, and now, with “Diaspora”, they return to their origin.

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Heartfelt and Sorrowful Castilian Bluegrass

Los Hermanos Cubero – Quique dibuja la tristeza

Los Hermanos Cubero – Quique dibuja la tristeza (El Segell del Primavera, 2018)

Quique dibuja la tristeza (Quique draws sadness) is the winner of this year’s Best World Music and Fusion Album at Spain’s prestigious Premios MIN (the influential indie awards). Los Hermanos Cubero are brothers Enrique (Quique) Ruiz Cubero and Roberto Ruiz Cubero. For several years, they have been mixing Castilian folk music with American bluegrass.

Los Hermanos Cubero

This is a bittersweet album, a tribute to Quique’s wife, Olga, who died of cancer. The lyrics reflect the pain, memories, and grief that so deeply affected Quique. Musically, the bluegrass influences are clearly visible in the form of intimate acoustic arrangements with mandolin and guitar. Meanwhile, the guest fiddler adds a country and western element.

Quique dibuja la tristeza was recorded live at the end of 2017 with a mobile unit at LaVeguilla Winery in Olivares de Duero (Valladolid province). The lineup featured Enrique (Quique) Ruiz Cubero on guitar and vocals; Roberto Ruiz Cubero on mandolin and vocals; Jaime del Blanco on violin, baritone violin and viola; and Oriol Aguilar on acoustic bass.

Los Hermanos Cubero have released an intensely personal album with remarkably expressive vocals and a fascinating, stripped down bluegrass meets Spanish trad crossover sound.

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Guitarist Cañizares Wins Best Flamenco Album Award at Spanish Independent Music Awards 2019

The album “El mito de la caverna” by acclaimed flamenco guitarist Cañizares is the winner of the Best Flamenco Album Award at Premios MIN 2019, Spain’s independent music awards.

El mito de la caverna is Cañizares’ 14th album and he describes it as a heartfelt tribute to his roots and traditions.

Cañizares is a classically-trained flamenco guitarist who bridges the worlds of flamenco and classical music.

More about Cañizares.

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The Better Musical Paradises of Javier Ruibal

Javier Ruibal – “Paraísos mejores” (Nuba Records, 2018)

Javier Ruibal, one of Spain’s finest musical poets delivers another gem titled Paraísos mejores (better paradises). Ruibal has a highly expressive, captivating vocal style that matches his poetic lyrics perfectly. His lyrics talk about love, flamenco dreams, recent historical events, the hopes of African migrants, Egypt travels, imaginary places and the aspiration of humanity despite war mongering. All songs are in Spanish except one in which Ruibal sings in Arabic.

Musically, Javier Ruibal, takes you on a fantastic musical trip around the globe, incorporating flamenco, Cuban music, Middle Eastern music, bolero, contemporary jazz, rock, and chamber classical music.

The album was produced by Javier’s son, percussionist Javi (Javier Jr.) Ruibal. Paraísos mejores includes two high profile singers, Dominican star Juan Luis Guerra and the great Brazilian artist Chico Cesar.

The line-up includes Javier Ruibal on vocals and guitar together with some of Spain’s best players: Jose Recacha on electric and acoustic guitars, ud, bouzouki, Portuguese guitar, electric bass and keyboards; Javi Ruibal on drums and percussion; Manuel Machado on trumpet; Federico Lechner on piano; Victor Merlo on acoustic bass; Diego Villegas on saxophone, flute, clarinet and harmonica; Frederick Hogue on trombone; Daniel Escortell on bass; Jorge Arribas on accordion; Diego Galaz on violin, mandolin and saw; Laure Gaudrom on viola; José Inés Guerrero on cello;  Faiçal Kourrich on violin and viola; and José Carlos Roca on cello.

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