Dorantes, Ries, Ezra, Ruibal, Carmona – Flamenco meets Jazz

There is always an odd one out.  In your class, at work, in yoga, at the playground, or at the festival. Flamenco Festival London. It should all be about flamenco, but then there is the odd one out.

Flamenco? Not quite. Musically it’s rather jazz, with some flamenco bits here and there. Structurally? It’s similar to jazz with the solos of each musician. The musicians? Some jazz, some flamenco. The instruments? Piano, percussion, double bass, saxophone, dance.

What is this then?

This is when Flamenco meets jazz, the concert of David Peña Dorantes, Tim Ries, Adam Ben Ezra, Javi Ruibal and Jesús Carmona on the 2019 Flamenco Festival London on the 10th of July.

Utterly brilliant – my favourite English expression.

The concert was special to start with because these 4 musicians have not performed much together in the past, this may have been their 3rd or 4th concert together. They don’t practise together every other day at their homes, they reunited again for this concert. An American, an Israeli, and three Spanish. I always repeat the cliche “music has no borders”. Music has a language that reaches beyond borders, and instruments communicate to each other in a way, that I sometimes find difficult to understand, as someone who doesn’t play any instruments. I found instrumental music difficult to enjoy some years ago, but having lived with a lover of jazz for over 12 years, I very much enjoy it now.

The themes were mostly jazz, but also including some of Dorantes’ themes like Orobroy and the Caravana de los Zingali from his album Sur (South), which I happen to have and have listened to it so so many times. When I heard the first beats of the song, my tears started running.

The piano of Dorantes is always a pleasure to listen to, whatever he plays jazz or flamenco. There are some geniuses around in the world, and Dorantes may be one of the music ones.

Tim Ries has played the saxophone with the Rolling Stones for years, and is currently working on a series for HBO about gypsy music from the East of Hungary, being released in September. Do I need to add anything else?

Adam Ben Ezra has solo shows with his double bass, because as we could experience it on the concert, he is able to entertain an entire theatre by himself. His double bass, hands, feet and attitude is more than simple entertaining.

Javi Ruibal has been playing percussion, drum, cajón with Dorantes for many years, besides his concerts with his band Glazz and his father Javier Ruibal, and he has released his first solo album this year, Solo un mundo (Only one world). You notice right away how well Javi and Dorantes understand each other and how their instruments speak to each other. It’s just amazing.

And then there was the dancer, who has recently risen to super star category in flamenco, Jesús Carmona. He is not strictly a flamenco dancer, he has danced in the Spanish National Ballet Company for years, and also in dance companies of famous flamenco dancers, like Carmen Cortes or Antonio Canales. He danced 3 songs, but the choreographies seemed to suit so perfectly the rhythm and the mood, it totally captured me.

I also liked that Tim and Adam both involved the audience in their solos: Tim by making us sing and Adam by making us clap. Were we any good? I am not sure, but it felt like a great way to connect with the performing artists, and actually form part of their performance.

Jazz and flamenco met that night in Sadler’s Wells. Title well chosen. And even if you don’t know much of either, it was a good concert to go to, because there was good music. played. What else we want?

 

 

Miguel Poveda – Recital de flamenco

If you like flamenco, you’ll like Miguel Poveda, simply because of his love and affection for flamenco.

He started his concert in Sadler’s Wells on the 8th of July with a little teaser of his album “Enlorquecido” where he paid tribute to the poet Federico García Lorca with songs composed to his poems and letters. It was only 2-3 songs but it showed the passion of one man towards the art and life of another man, which is emotional and moving to see.

Then the real flamenco started! Alegrías, bulerías, tangos, a guajira, a petenera and a few other simple, but true, authentic flamenco songs. In a world where everyone searches for themselves and tries to express themselves via but not always strictly with flamenco only, it is appreciated to listen to the original stuff sometimes. Especially from someone who was born into a world that had nothing to do with flamenco, and still his love and passion for this art form, together with his talent in singing have made him one of the top flamenco singers of our time.

What makes Miguel Poveda even greater as an artist, are the musicians surrounding him, and the way he treats them on stage.

I was thrilled to see that I knew every one of the artists accompanying Miguel, but even if I didn’t, Miguel introduced everyone one by one. El Londro from Jerez singing and clapping; Carlos Grilo, master clapper from Jerez (oh lord that contra-beat he claps so perfectly on time and with so much passion in the bulería!); Jesús Guerrero a new talent in the guitar, not only accompanying but composing; Paquito Gonzalez on percussion and drums, who accompanied Paco de Lucía on his last album; and last but not least, El Choro dancing. I like the dancers who don’t only focus on footwork, but they dance. The dance with their arms, with their bodies, with their souls. Antonio Molina, El Choro is one of them.

One of the highlights of the concert was actually a bulería performed by the musicians without Miguel. So much emotion and energy. I could hear the people around me in the audience clapping the rhythm with the feet, moving their hands and heads, as we all enjoyed the song.

Miguel’s English has still room for improvement, but English and non-English speakers both enjoyed listening to him trying and entertaining us (including himself!) with his improvised words and phrases.

The tango to finish the concert was just brilliant. Miguel and co. made a great show, and it was the cherry on top when Miguel invited up to the stage Jesús Carmona, who was sitting in the audience, and he danced a bit at the end. The process of Choro taking off his shoes ON STAGE, Jesús taking off his white trainers ON STAGE, exchanging shoes ON STAGE, while Miguel sang and the musicians played, has just shown that improvisation is possible, it does happen, and it gives us a unique experience of a concert. Thank you all!

All in all, it was an excellent concert. There is only one thing I would mention to Miguel for next time. In today’s day and age where diversity and inclusion are such hot topics across areas of age, ethnicity, gender, disability, LGBT+ etc. Where were the women in the show? To be fair to Miguel, he has had La Lupi as dancer on his concerts for years, so this may be a one-off, still my eyes missed the ladies on stage. Hopefully next time.

Until then all the best Miguel, you are still a phenomenon!

Sara Baras – Sombras

Finally, the London Flamenco Festival has started!

Who else could be the first artist to perform on the festival, than the internationally celebrated and known, Sara Baras.

3rd of July, was her second day of performance out of the six. She and her show ‘Sombras’ (Shadows) occupies the first half of the festival. Sara Baras, the “showman”.

I haven’t seen her for years, but she hasn’t changed much. She still has the same smile, young and fresh. She still has that cheekiness of the south of Spain; she plays on stage with the public, winking, joking, throwing kisses, involving the audience fully.

Her shows haven’t changed much either. She still loves playing with lights, colours and her dresses. She still brings many musicians, I was happy to hear live for the first time Rubio de Pruna and Israel Fernández (and what hair, wow), but also saw some new faces I didn’t know, together with some new instruments I didn’t expect!

The footwork of Sara is still fast and impressive, but too much for my taste. Technique is not all, the heart has to be there. And I’m sure she puts all her heart in her shows, but it must be difficult (if not impossible) to give the same each and every night over a week.

The game with light and shadow, sound and silence, and the stage design are definitely still her strengths! Just like the musicians she has with her; beautiful solos from the percussionists and the saxophonist!

Unbelievable for me to realise how her arms can be recognised from a million. Always the same, strong, straight, moving up and up and up. Missing the soul though. Interesting how the arms of María Pages and Sara Baras are so different, yet so recognisable both.

The mariana “Yo vengo de Hungría” is dear to my heart for obvious reasons (I’m Hungarian!), so was nice to hear parts of it in the show! And always nice to find little hints and gestures to artists like Paco de Lucía and Enrique Morente.

But the best of all, is that my friend Mirawa came with me, and I got to show a little piece of flamenco to someone new!

Someone who didn’t know flamenco before.

Someone, who still has the entire world of flamenco ahead of her to discover.

Lucky her!

The festival continues and I will be back with more updates soon…

This is the final countdown… tirititiiii

The countdown has started…. there are 3 days left until the London Flamenco Festival!

From 2 -14 July the festival is on and I have so many tickets, I can hardly believe it!

London peeps, it’s still not too late to get your tickets!

Come and enjoy flamenco in the London summer!

Here is the program again:

Sadler’s Wells

2-7 July     Ballet Flamenco do Sara Baras: Sombras

8 July        Miguel Poveda: Recital de cante

9 July        Rocio Molina: Fallen from heaven

10 July      Dorantes, Tim Ries, Adam Ben Ezra, Javi Ruibal with guest artist Jesús Carmona: Flamenco meets jazz

11 July      Olga Pericet

12-13 July Gala Flamenca: Mercedes Ruíz, Eduardo Guerrero, María Moreno

14 July       Patricia Guerrero: Catedral

Lilian Baylis studio

6 July  Shubbak festival – Amir ELSaffar Ensemble: Luminiscencia

12 July David Carmona

12 July Kiki Morente

13 July Jesús Carmona

13 July Sergio de Lope

Note: our friend, Javi Ruibal will be playing on the festival with Dorantes on 10 July, and (!) he has recently released his first album “Solo un mundo”, available on www.losuyo.es. With each CD purchased, he plants a tree, so even more motivation to get it!

Change…

… is good.

I truly and honestly believe it is. Sometimes it is difficult to live through the changes though.

You move house, and although the new place is bigger and brighter, you still cannot find your place in it.

Your best ever colleague/friend accepts another job, being an excellent opportunity and the best decision professionally, but it suddenly becomes clear that you won’t be working together again for a while.

Tomorrow is the last day of a colleague of mine in the office. At work we are surrounded by numbers, but in reality, he is a jazz musician. Even though we have never been close friends, we have talked so much about music, it created a connection between us beyond numbers and charts.

Change, change, change.

None of them necessarily bad changes, some of them even good ones! But the mood is affected, and it takes time to digest and accept.

I heard this song this morning again and it just described my present mood perfectly.

Please do click on the link, most people never click on the links, when this blog is supposed to be about music. Music that needs to be listened to.

Listen to this song.

Before going to bed, waiting in a bus stop, or just closing your eyes for a few minutes.

To stop and think of change. Change is good. Let’s embrace it.

Paco Del Pozo: Oblivion

(Paco del Pozo is a flamenco singer from Madrid singing here “the quick years, memories starting to hurt like a blow, i don’t want to see time.”

“los años veloces, los recuerdos empiezan a doler como golpes, no quiero ver el tiempo…”)

 

Jerez. He- what?

During intensive periods of life, there is no time (or simply willingness) to spend on extras, like for example writing your blog. So first, you start publishing the posts that you have written earlier, trying to prepare for these periods. When the pre-written posts are all published, you try to change tone and instead of the informative posts, you publish short posts aimed at the emotions. Then it’s publishing time again, and there is nothing written, nothing planned, no new ideas, intensity of life is still at all time highs, but you are too busy even to stress about the blog, and when friends start to mention the lack of posts, you start thinking again how to reinvent yourself. The continuous thinking makes you realise that the blog has celebrated its one-year-birthday in the meantime, but you were too busy to remember, or as a matter of fact, to celebrate….For God’s sake, it’s been one year I started writing a blog! And it’s about flamenco!

Round of applause, please.

Although I’m neither famous nor reached a million followers, and didn’t even get free tickets to a flamenco festival, my love for flamenco is unchanged, I still love writing the blog, my friends like it, I got people listen to more flamenco and I have had readers from countries like Madagascar and Australia! Total success.

So I decided to go back to my roots in blog writing. The roots I had (a year ago! ha!) when I started writing the blog. Simply writing about the flamenco I know about, without wanting to inform and educate beyond my knowledge. Informal and interesting, fresh and exciting.

A marketing expert would probably not agree with my choice of adjectives – I still need courses on “the use of words in blog writing to increase number of readers”, but at least it’s authentic, and at the moment, that’s all I can offer. Authenticity. (A tope)

So I wrote about this town in the province of Cádiz: Jerez (pronounces in Spanish as He-res). Jerez de la Frontera to be precise. When you start listening to flamenco, and hear artists introduce themselves, besides their name, they always say where they come from. For many, this is is their proof of authenticity. So I started hearing Jerez more and more.

La Paquera, José Mercé, Moraíto, the Terremotos, Capullo de Jerez, Mercedes Ruíz, Santiago Lara, David & Alfredo Lagos, David Carpio, just to mention a few; they all come from Jerez.

Jerez is a town where flamenco overflows in every corner of the town, and probably every second person could go and perform on stage, they have it so deep inside of them, their heart beats to the rhythm of bulerías. I am lucky to know a “jerezano” (a person from Jerez). The uncle of A, Cuqui. Engineer by profession, flamenco at heart. He has never made a living of flamenco, but it’s very much part of his day-to-day life. On every family gathering or fiesta, he would be clapping the rhythm, “jaleando”, encouraging people to dance and enjoy themselves, sometimes he would even sing! Jerez is full of people like Cuqui. Flamenco lovers, artists at heart, but not on a professional level.

Jerez is also known as one of the towns of the triangle of flamenco, together with Seville and Cádiz. It means that these towns are considered as the cradle of flamenco, as flamenco has been present here for 2-3 centuries, and much of today’s flamenco is originated from here.

Jerez has two famous flamenco neighbourhoods: San Miguel and Santiago. Artists from Jerez specify where they are from, adding additional information about themselves and their styles to the experts knowing the difference!

Jerez has not one, but two flamenco festivals of its own. The festival of Jerez is organised annually around February-March time, with shows and courses known internationally. My article about the festival can be read here. The Fiesta de la Bulería is organised in August, with the direction of the dancer María del Mar Moreno this year. It will be hot in Jerez in August, but those hot summer nights tend to be the most magical ones!

But Jerez is not only famous in the flamenco world! When you talk about Jerez, you must talk about sherry and horses! The town is home to the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, who are dedicated to the preservation of the equestrian arts, if you ever want to see some dancing horses! Once you are there, don’t miss visiting one of the famous sherry maker bodegas. In the UK, sherry is known as granny’s drink, but there are actually many different types of sherry, many of them not sweet at all, not granny’s drink at all! My favourite is the fino, which is the driest and has the lightest colour of all. Nothing like a very cold fino on a hot summer evening in my father in law, Antonio’s garden in El Puerto… There is a nice blog from Karen on WordPress about “The home of sherry” as some call Jerez.

So just remember, for horses, sherry, and flamenco: Jerez, the place to be.

Listen

I am a person of words. I like reading, I like writing, I like conversing and exchanging opinions with words.

But words are not necessarily always the best or the only option. As I’m growing older, I agree with this more and more.

Sometimes we just have to listen.

Click here, close your eyes and let the music take you on a journey.