Lágrimas negras

Have you ever heard about the album Lágrimas negras (Black tears)?

Don’t worry if you haven’t, it’s better late than never.

The album celebrated its 15 year anniversary in 2018, and the tour commemorating the occasion is still going around the world. Although it’s not pure flamenco, it’s one of the best fusions ever involving flamenco.

Bebo Valdés and Diego El Cigala.

Do you know them?

Bebo is a Cuban jazz pianist/composer and Diego is a Spanish flamenco singer.

They have already been famous in their own respective genres, when Bebo collaborated in Diego’s 2001 album Corren tiempos de alegría (Those were years of joy) with 2 boleros Amar y vivir (To love and live) and La fuente de Bebo (Bebo’s source). Afterwards they both felt the need to go deeper in their collaboration, and almost secretly started working together on some songs. What felt like a spontaneous and intimate project at the beginning, ended up being the most beautiful fusion of Latin jazz, flamenco and bolero of all times. You don’t have to like flamenco to enjoy it; you don’t have to like jazz to enjoy it. It’s just good music.

Fusion of Cuban rhythms and flamenco vocals, produced by Spanish producer and guitarist Javier Limón and film director and producer Fernando Trueba. It counts with a number of top flamenco musicians like Javier Colina on the bass/contrabass, El Piraña on drums/cajón, Niño Josele on the guitar, and also the Cuban-born American saxophonist, and clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera. It was recorded between September and December 2002, and consists of 9 songs:

1. Inolvidable

2. Veinte años

3. Lágrimas negras

4. Nieblas de riachuelo

5. Corazón loco

6. Se me olvidó que te olvidé

7. Vete de mi

8. La bien pagá

9. Eu sei que vou te amar / Coraçao vagabundo

The title of the album comes from the song Lágrimas negras. The story tells that the Cuban author Miguel Matamoros travelled to Santo Domingo in 1930, and stayed at a B&B, where he heard a woman desperately crying in another room. As the weeping hasn’t stopped nor seemed she finding comfort, Miguel asked the B&B owner what was wrong, and he was told the story of a woman abandoned by her lover for the love of another woman. The suffering and despair of this woman inspired Miguel to compose the song in 1930, and has been interpreted on countless occasions since.

The album was huge success, and earned a Latin Grammy Award for Best Traditional Tropical Album.

Enough of words now, let’s listen to the album a bit and enjoy the magic of Diego and Bebo.

London Flamenco Summers

7.04am The alarm goes off. Snooze. Snooze. Snooze. I slowly get out of bed, get them out of bed, brush my teeth, brush their teeth, dress up, dress them up, kisses to all and go!

8.02am I’m out the door. Helmet, keys, phone, ready to hit the road. July, London, nice breeze on the bike.

8.30am Coffee and nuts at the office, a nice chat by the coffee machine.

9.00am Numbers, charts, meetings till lunchtime.

12.40pm Lunch from the canteen, healthy and free, what else can you ask for?! A little walk with my colleague Tom outside the office (happens to be Little Venice, lucky me!).

1.20pm More meetings, numbers and charts till 4.29pm.

4.30pm Home time: helmet, keys, phone, ready to hit the road. July, London, nice breeze on the bike.

5.02pm Arrive at home, start the laundry, peel the potatoes, boil the water, put the sausages in the oven. While I get ready in the shower, the sausages and potatoes are ready too.

5.43pm Dash to nursery, but instead of starting the second shift in the playground, home again, baby sitter is coming.

6.15pm Helmet, keys, phone, ready to hit the road. July, London, nice breeze on the bike.

6.32pm Arrive at Shakespeare’s Head for a quick beer with friends before the concert.

7.15pm Head over to Sadler’s Wells, and watch the theatre fill up.

7.30pm Flamenco!

9.18pm The show is over, the night is young. After a chat with friends about the concert: helmet, keys, phone, ready to hit the road. July, London, nice breeze on the bike.

10.25pm Home, dinner, blog, bed. Dreams only arrive after midnight.

7.04am The alarm goes off again, and a new day of the London Flamenco Festival starts…

After more than a decade of Flamenco Festival in London, in 2019 Sadler’s Wells moved the festival from its February-March program to July. Scary? Brave? Miguel Marín, the director of the festival expressed his initial concerns about the new date: summer, holidays, will people come to see flamenco, when it’s nice and warm outside and they could be sitting on a terrace sipping Pimm’s?!

Well, I don’t know the sales figures, but I saw the theatre packed every night. Plus it felt more like shows in Spain:, because it was hot. And after all, it’s easier to relate flamenco to the hot summers I lived in Spain, than the cold Februaries I live in London… so I say, it was a good decision.

It was two weeks of madness due to the number of concerts I went to, but now that it’s over, I miss every moment of it…

 

Emotions & Flamenco

(Photo by aNTO)

A day after my 29th birthday I quit my job in the City of London, after months of hesitating, thinking, considering: am I giving up? Have I tried hard enough? Should I be trying harder? Is it worth trying more? Is this the job I want at all? Am I throwing away a well paid job in a moment when people are struggling to find work? What should I do? What is the right decision? Hundreds of similar, personal and professional questions in my head day after day, month after month. Again and again and again.

It was a difficult time (difficult, in the first world sense, of course). During these months I found relief in music. In flamenco, mostly, but not exclusively. I listened a lot to this song. The good and the bad, sang by Duquende (‘Lo bueno y lo malo’, originally from Ray Heredia). I could feel every music note in the song as my own heart beat. My dilemma was exactly the same. What’s good and what’s bad? Personally, I knew I had to leave. Professionally, the decision was not that straight-forward. Career changing decisions are never easy to make, but they always pay off. (Orsi, you will see!) Eventually, I did quit, and looking back, it was the best decision of my life.

How much did the music help? God only knows… But I know it made me cry, and through the tears, each day I got closer to the decision I so feared, but changed my life forever.

Funnily, before our friend Paco moved back to Madrid to start his new life with his beautiful wife Maria, we had a long conversation about how he also found emotional connection to flamenco through one particular song. Despite the fact that none of us grew up surrounded by flamenco, or even had any childhood memory with flamenco, a Hungarian and a Catalan were able to identify themselves with the emotions transmitted by flamenco, and be moved by them.  This is the magic of flamenco reaching people with different backgrounds!

Flamenco is not as strange as it may seem at first. I remember when I moved to Madrid and A. first put on some flamenco in our tiny flat in Lavapiés. Odd, surprising, were my first impressions. Fair enough; I have never heard anything similar before. With time though, I hopelessly fell in love with flamenco: first with the more joyful songs, where the rhythm is catchy, easy to enjoy and follow, like tangos and bulerías, then with the more sorrow tientos, soleá and so on. At first, it’s probably easier to identify with the happy emotions in a new art form, like for example Camarón’s I am gipsy (Yo soy gitano). Just like, my friend Mac did, who started listening to flamenco after reading about it here!

But as one gets familiar with the flamenco sounds, one will discover the beauty of songs like Vicente Amigo:’s Réquiem , even though it is totally different. Different mood and clearly different aim. Without knowing it is written for Paco de Lucía, or without understanding the words, the emotions are there. A beautiful and moving farewell, and also a great example of how flamenco is capable of transmitting emotions beyond borders and cultures.

I could spend the night listing examples of beautiful and moving flamenco songs to prove how anyone can find emotional connection to music previously not known to them, but it is getting late, and my nights are still not about sleeping 8 hours straight in my bed. So let me finish with my all time favourite:  the eternal Fernanda de Utrera and her “Se nos rompió el amor“. There was a time in my life, when I had it on repeat, and listened to it a hundred times at least: when love is gone, it’s gone. Many of us know the feeling and can relate to it. Listen to the song sang by Fernanda and you will never forget it…

The circle of life

(Photo by Antonio Ojeda Guerrero a.k.a. Antonio III. of Antonio IV. and Antonio V. in June 2017 in La Jara, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain)

As children we listen to the music our parents listen to; only after a certain age we choose for ourselves. To give you an idea about my musical upbringing, meaning what my parents listened to when I was little, we listened to for instance ABBA, Queen, Elton John from the internationals music palette and to LGT, Koncz Zsuzsa and Zorán from the Hungarian. Despite being a scientist, my father has a sensitive soul and has always enjoyed playing and listening to music, not to mention his talent in singing. Even today he sings in a choir in my home town Szombathely, having concerts on local events on both sides of the Austro-Hungarian border.

He has always been a big fan of Zorán, a Hungarian singer and composer with Serbian origin. Zorán and his brother Dusán have formed an outstanding artistic couple for decades: Dusán writing the lyrics for the songs written and performed by Zorán. I must have listened to thousands of their songs as a child, among them to “Volt egy tánc”. Even though I didn’t quite understand what Zorán sang about until I was older, I have totally been mesmerised by the music.

The music. I was in my twenties, when I first listened to Leonard Cohen’s Take this waltz and god, was it a big shock! I told my friends: “I know this song, this is from Zorán, a Hungarian singer.” They laughed and lightened me up that the original is from Cohen, and “the Hungarian guy must have created his own version.”. Really??? Oh wow, that is possible, of course, but what a discovery after having thought throughout my entire lifetime it was Zorán’s song…

The other shock came when I found out that the lyrics of Cohen’s Take this waltz are from  Federico García Lorca’s “A Poet in New York”. It was part of Cohen’s tribute to Lorca (as Lorca was one of his favourite poets) and the song was released as a single, then also included in his album “I’m your man” later on.

But versions do exist, and recently, I found another one. The ONE, I should say. The flamenco version: “Pequeño vals vienés” What would be the world like without a flamenco version, right? And who else could have done it, than the one and only Enrique Morente. I have recently written about him in another post, explaining and praising his art, talent and curiosity. Always interested in new stuff, always wanting to create something different, but with the foundations of flamenco, that he knows so well and is so good at! So here is his version. This song forms part of his album “Omega” with alternative rock group Lagartija Nick, and it is considered one of the most controversial works of Enrique’s career. It counts with the participation of many flamencos, such as Tomatito, Vicente Amigo or Miguel Ángel Cortés, whereby “flamenco and punk rock are mingled with the recreation of Cohen’s song and lyrics from Federico García Lorca’s book “A Poet in New York”. Surprise, surprise. So basically the singer from Granada brought the song back to where it was originally from, where Lorca was from: Granada! What a genius, Enrique Morente.

In the Spanish documentary “Omega” (link to the full version on Youtube) Leonard Cohen shares, how he loved that Enrique made a version of his song. I wonder if he said the same about Zorán’s version. Did he know about it at all?! I can only hope he did…

This is how the circle closes: Zorán – Leonard Cohen – Enrique Morente. The circle of MY life. Starting with me in Hungary, travelling through the international music scene, getting to Spain and to flamenco, and hence back to me again. Olé!

 

Flamencos Today

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I had a think of all the contemporary flamencos I know. Did I miss anyone?!

Lucía Ruibal, Javi Ruibal, Pastora Galván, Israel Galván,

Dorantes, Rocío Márquez,

Rosario la Tremendita, Farruquito, Antonio El Farru, El Carpeta,

David Carpio, La Lupi, Curro de María,

José Quevedo Bolita, Alba Molina, Marina Heredia, Esperanza Fernández,

Guadalupe Torres, Dani de Morón, Diego del Morao,

Antonio Reyes,

Arcángel, Rocío Molina, Patricia Guerrero,

Leonor Leal, Úrsula López, Tomasito, Eva La Yerbabuena, María Terremoto,

Andrés Marín, José Mercé, Dani Casares,

Rafael Riqueni,

Antonio Rey, Tomatito, Mercedes Ruiz, Santiago Lara, Melchora Ortega,

David Lagos, Alfredo Lagos,

Manolo Sanlúcar, Juan Habichuela nieto, Mercedes de Córdoba,

David Palomar, Anabel Rivera, Marco Flores,

María Moreno, Jesús Corbacho, Antonio Molina El Choro,

Ana Morales, Manuel Valencia,

Rosario Toledo, Eduardo Guerrero, Rancapino, Rancapino Chico,

Manuel Liñán,

Lucía Campillo, Jesús Carmona, Diego Carrasco,

Pedro El Granaíno, Ángel Reyes, Adela Campallo, Rafael Campallo,

Karime Amaya,

Alba Heredia, José Maldonado, Antonio Canales,

Alfredo Tejada, Claudia Cruz, Lucía Piñona, Miguel Ángel Cortés,

Laura González, Belén Maya,

Miguel Poveda,

Sara Baras, José Serrano, Rycardo Moreno, Ane Carrasco, Luis de Perikín,

Estrella Morente, Kiki Morente,

Rafael de Utrera, Jesús Guerrero, Olga Pericet, Gema Moneo,

Jesús Méndez, Diego Cigala, Israel Fernández,

Lela Soto, Argentina, Concha Jareño, Patrocinio Hijo,

David de Jacoba, Carlos de Jacoba,

Encarna Anillo, José Anillo, El Cabrero, Mayte Martín,

José Valencia, Tomás de Perrate, Jairo Barrull, Rocío Bazán,

Antonio El Pipa,

María Pagés, Rubén Dantas, María Juncal, Jesús Fernández,

Laura Santamaría, Eduardo Leal,

Los Mellis, Niña Pastori, Pepe Habichuela, Tomasa La Macanita,

Carmen Linares, Tía Juana La Del Pipa,

Alicia Gil, La Fabi,

Potito, María del Mar Moreno, Isabel Bayón, La Chana, Vicente Amigo,

Gerardo Núñez, Carmen Cortés, Rafaela Carrasco,

 Inés Bacán,

Ángel Múñoz, Charo Espino, José Galán, Rafael Rodriguez,

David Carmona, Remedios Amaya, Juana Amaya,

Fuensanta La Moneta, Nano de Jerez,

Anabel Valencia, Rafael Amargo, Carmen Talegona,

Niño Josele, Piraña, El Niño Seve,

Rafael de Utrera, Oscar Lago, Yerai Cortés, Ismael de La Rosa El Bola,

 Luis El Zambo,

Rafael El Zambo, Miguel Salado, Inmaculada Aguilar,

Ezequiel Benítez, David Nieto, María José Llergo,

Raimundo Amador, Rafael Amador, Gema Caballero, Eduardo Garrocho,

José del Tomate, Carlos Grilo,

Miguel Ángel Soto El Londro, Dani Casares, Maria Toledo,

Agustín Diassera, Fahmi Alqhai, Paco Cepero, Pablo Rubén Maldonado,

María José Pérez,

Lole Montoya, Angelita Montoya, Samuel Serrano,

David Carmona, Moisés Vargas, María Mezcle, Antonia Contreras,

Chano Domínguez, Jorge Pardo, Duquende.

Music is not free

Digital age has dawned upon us much earlier than I would have ever imagined. I still remember asking for a Walkman for Christmas, changing carefully the CDs in my CD player, or buying an iPod on a trip to the States. Listening to music anywhere and anytime, is nothing new though. The magic of radio has long been invented, even though on the radio we can only listen to the programs and music offered by the radio channels. Our choices are limited in a way. One can argue though that listening to our choice of music was also possible before Internet was around. We had the walkmans, CD players, but it was always music you either paid for, bought the vinyl, cassette or CD (or copied from a friend…). It needed some physical action to get the music you wanted.

Times have changed. With the evolution of technology and with the invention of internet, we are now able to listen to the music we want, anywhere, anytime, with the click of a button. Perhaps even without paying or having done anything extraordinary. Providers like YouTube offer infinite amount of music and videos available for anyone with internet connection. Quality and origin can be disputed, but it’s there. ITunes offer a big variety of music from all over the world for a relatively cheap price. And with Spotify, music in good quality has been brought to our doorsteps. Yes, it is still limited in a way, but now with Beatles on Spotify, I would say the limit is closer to the sky. And all that, practically for free. With advertising in between songs, it is literally free. Without advertising, and for making music available on your phone, there is a small charge. About 10-15 pounds a month. Is that a realistic price to have a music library of tens of thousands of artists and their numerous albums, radio channels by genre, music lists by theme and occasion?! By subscribing and paying this rather symbolic monthly subscription fee, music is available on any device, without advertising to anyone who has access to internet. Excellent! Music we like, music we want, when we want it, basically for free.

But what about the artists? Do they get paid? Do they get anything for allowing millions to access their creation? Do they get paid for all their hard work? Or publicity and accessibility compensates them?

I am not intending to answer these questions in their entirety. There may not even be one correct answer, responses may differ for each and every artist. Artists at the start of their career, may be happy for getting their name out there via Spotify or getting just a small pay from iTunes; being well paid may not be their number one priority. Once they are better known, their CDs will sell better and more people will go to their concerts. Artists with an established career, will not need such publicity anymore, their priority may simply shift to get paid. It all depends.

What I know for sure is that when you buy a CDs or go to a concert, bigger portion of your money goes to the artists. So I keep buying CDs and go to concerts. Recently, we have bought a HiFi, so we could listen to our CDs at home, because with the evolution of technology, listening to a CD is also becoming a challenge! We still have a big collection of CDs, including lots of flamenco and loads of jazz… A’s jazz.

Last year on a trip to Madrid, we went to a giant book-music-video store called Fnac, and we bought a number of CDs for our home collection. Photo above. Not strictly all my choice, but a good variety of flamenco artists, all rather traditional, and mostly from earlier days, only a couple contemporary artists and albums.

Just to put the names out there too (from left to right, up and down):

Isabelita de Jerez

Enrique Morente & Sabicas

Lole y Manuel

Paco de Lucía

David Carpio

Ray Heredia

Antonio Flores

Recent news in the UK is the music and film retailer HMV going into administration. For the second time in 6 years (!), but this time around, it seems to be final. This is the result of multiple changes over the past 10 years in our consumer behaviour: buying less music in general, buying less in stores and more online, buying more digital music, and so on. But the trend is there: we spend less on music and this results in businesses going bust, people losing their jobs, artists earning less.

So I encourage everybody to always pay for the music they listen to and keep going to concerts! Let’s support the artists in every possible way, so they can continue creating, and we can enjoy their music!

Did you know…

… that Paco de Lucía spent the last few years of his life living between Mexico and Mallorca?

Did you know that the singers La Niña de los Peines and Tomás Pavón were siblings?

Did you know that Israel Galván and Pastora Galván are siblings?

Did you know that Pastora Pavón has not recognised her husband, Pepe Pinto at the end of her life due to her illness?

Did you know that the guest artist in the dancer Sara Baras’ shows is always the same, José Serrano, because he is her husband?

Did you know that the father of singer María Terremoto, the singer Fernando Terremoto died at the age of 40, and his father, also singer Terremoto de Jerez died at the age of 47?

Did you know that the National Dance Award winner, Rubén Olmo and former dancer of the Ballet Nacional de Andalucía, Eduardo Leal are a couple?

Did you know that the pianist Dorantes is the nephew of the singer El Lebrijano?

Did you know that singer Rocío Márquez and viola player Fahmi Alqhai, who recently published an album together, are neighbours?

Krisztián Nyáry has become famous in Hungary within a few months in 2012, when he started publishing to his friends on Facebook short stories about the personal life of famous Hungarian poets and writers. His stories became so popular, that a publisher offered him to publish the stories in a book. One book followed another, and today he is the author of six books about famous Hungarians and their life stories. The intention of bringing closer to us the already well known figures of literature, fine arts and Hungarian history is utterly brilliant, and I am a devoted fan of Krisztián. I truly respect his idea and all the work and research he has done to help us understand better the people we tirelessly learn about in school.

My intention is similar. Bringing closer to everyone the flamenco artists and the art of flamenco by sharing stories, interesting facts, upcoming events and my experience and opinion.

I have started this blog in 2018 to share my flamenco love with the world and if time allows, I would like to continue in 2019 too. So if you did not know some or any of the above things, I invite you to join me on this journey throughout the world of flamenco in this coming year. Let’s get 2019 started!