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Thread: Thoughts About Cante Flamenco

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    Barbebleu, I greatly appreciate your interest in these posts; it makes me feel good all over! Feel free to do what works best for you in rearranging or editing the entries; I'm just happy that people find them of some value.

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    Default Agujetas

    Previously I posted Brook Zern's translation of an appreciation of the recently-deceased cantaor Manuel Agujetas. Agujetas felt, and often said, that he was the last of the great Gypsy flamenco singers, in the line of Manuel Torres, Tomas Pavón, Manolo Caracol, Terremoto, el Chocolate, etc. Camarón laid some claim to that title, but died long before Agujetas, of rampant addiction and dissolution. I have posted two examples of Agujetas' art before--a Martinete, as harsh and stark an utterance as can be found in world song, and a fine, classic Fandangos. In appearance, Agujetas always reminded me of a smaller, fiercer version of film actor Jack Palance--not a person to trifle with. Herewith some more Agujetas--the gitano palos with which he is most closely identified.

    First: Bulerias. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=SeUEU680FEc

    Next: Siguiriyas. There is a bit of spoken introduction first.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dKgFW8UFmHw

    Finally, a palo that I have not previously offered, the Solea por Bulerias, or sometimes, with terms reversed, the Bulerias por Solea. This is a sort of hybrid palo, a more rapid version of Soleares that is often danced, and has a sharper, more urgent edge than the Solea Grande.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=SunHh4lJfyg
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Apr-05-2016 at 21:49.

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  5. #33
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    Default Manuel Vallejo

    It is fitting that after an exploration of the art of one of the supreme gitano cantaores, Manuel Agujetas, we turn to his almost exact opposite, the great payo singer Manuel Vallejo. Vallejo's dates are 1891 to 1960, with his golden era the 1920s and 1930s. Unlike the primal, harsh rasp of Agujetas, Vallejo was blessed with a pure, high tenor voice with rapid vibrato, and enormous control over that voice. He was equally at home in cante andaluz and cante gitano, bringing grace and beauty to the palos, rather than earnestness and power. He was respected and beloved by both gitano and payo aficionados, won many awards and accolades for his singing, and was accompanied by most of the great tocaores of the day: Niño Pérez, Ramón Montoya, Miguel Borrull, Manolo de Huelva. Here is rare footage from the 1930s of Vallejo--notice the neatness of dress of all; suit and tie were mandatory garb for serious professionals in flamenco in that era. Also in several clips note Vallejo's trademark hat.

    First, a Vallejo creation, the Fandangos por Solea, marrying the rhythmically free Fandango to the rhythm of the Solea.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KnSQvmVrOyM

    Next, Siguiriyas: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kYqn5ssgCbs

    Then, Solea por Bulerias: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nWW33Fl1Uqs

    Finally, Malagueñas: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OvBp_tPEq-E

    With Agujetas and Vallejo, we have the Yin and Yang of cante flamenco performance; something for everybody.
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Apr-12-2016 at 19:00.

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  7. #34
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    Default Pastora and Tomas Pavón

    Flamenco has always been an art and a profession that runs in families. Often the link is father/son as is the case with guitarists Perico el del Lunar viejo and hijo; uncle/nephew, as with guitarists Diego del Gastor and Paco del Gastor. Or father/daughter as we saw with singers Enrique and Estrella Morente. Sometimes whole clans are involved: legendary dancer Carmen Amaya's troupe consisted mostly of her extended family dancing, singing, and guitar. But one of the greatest pairings in flamenco history was of the Pavón siblings, Pastora Pavón, "La Niña de los Peines", "The Girl of the Combs", and her brother Tomas.

    Pastora (1890-1969) is considered by all to have been the greatest female cantaora. She so dominated flamenco that she earned the nickname Herod (the "killer" of the niños), as she would perform in a town where the locals would bring forth their aspiring young singers in a "sing-off", and Pastora would "slay" them one by one. Her knowledge of the palos was complete, but it was her voice that carried the day--a penetrating, chilling, wild voice that still gives me chills to hear. Her greatest years were the 1920s through the 1950s, and she always sang as a professional.

    Her brother Tomas (1893-1952), by contrast, was something of a recluse, rarely singing outside of gitano circles, and never as a touring professional. But like his sister, who encouraged him always to sing, he had an encyclopedic knowledge of the palos, and a wonderful voice that has earned him a place easily among the five greatest male flamenco singers, and we are lucky to have his recordings. You will note the brevity of these selections--they were all recorded in the 1930s when disks (78s) were limited to 3-5 minutes and the singers were under constant pressure to not exceed the limit, so they always erred on the side of keeping things short.

    I offer here a mix of Soleas and Siguiriyas, as these are my favorites by the siblings. First we hear Pastora, in the Solea En dos vereas iguales...
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=z0j8kx19GT4

    Next we turn to Pastora's Siguiriyas El corazón de pena....
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GhzFr7CDbNc

    Next we hear Pastora's Solea Ahora te vas..... This definitely gives me chills.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kVrPcNyYDtc

    We finish Pastora's contribution with the Siguiriya A la Sierra de Armenia....
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZUylFfApRo
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Apr-25-2016 at 22:26.

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  9. #35
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    Default Tomas Pavón

    We begin with Tomas singing the Solea Tengo el gusto:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mBVP-0kpx3A

    Next, the Siguiriya A clavita y clavel....:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gdkIRT1M9FM

    We end this exploration of the Pavón family with Tomas singing the Solea A la madre de mi alma....:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=tOa4YVC0s3w

    If one listens to these two palos, Solea (plural: Soleares) and Siguiriyas, one will eventually recognize both the vocal and the instrumental hallmarks that differentiate the one palo from the other. The same is true of most all the palos of flamenco--repeated exposure brings recognition.
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Apr-25-2016 at 22:43.

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  11. #36
    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    The Tomas Pavon clips are excellent in particular the Siguiriya. Of the two solea, I preferred Tengo el gusto. But what a cantaor!
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  13. #37
    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    Flamenco has always been an art and a profession that runs in families. Often the link is father/son as is the case with guitarists Perico el del Lunar viejo and hijo; uncle/nephew, as with guitarists Diego del Gastor and Paco del Gastor. Or father/daughter as we saw with singers Enrique and Estrella Morente. Sometimes whole clans are involved: legendary dancer Carmen Amaya's troupe consisted mostly of her extended family dancing, singing, and guitar. But one of the greatest pairings in flamenco history was of the Pavón siblings, Pastora Pavón, "La Niña de los Peines", "The Girl of the Combs", and her brother Tomas.

    Pastora (1890-1969) is considered by all to have been the greatest female cantaora. She so dominated flamenco that she earned the nickname Herod (the "killer" of the niños), as she would perform in a town where the locals would bring forth their aspiring young singers in a "sing-off", and Pastora would "slay" them one by one. Her knowledge of the palos was complete, but it was her voice that carried the day--a penetrating, chilling, wild voice that still gives me chills to hear. Her greatest years were the 1920s through the 1950s, and she always sang as a professional.

    Her brother Tomas (1893-1952), by contrast, was something of a recluse, rarely singing outside of gitano circles, and never as a touring professional. But like his sister, who encouraged him always to sing, he had an encyclopedic knowledge of the palos, and a wonderful voice that has earned him a place easily among the five greatest male flamenco singers, and we are lucky to have his recordings. You will note the brevity of these selections--they were all recorded in the 1930s when disks (78s) were limited to 3-5 minutes and the singers were under constant pressure to not exceed the limit, so they always erred on the side of keeping things short.

    I offer here a mix of Soleas and Siguiriyas, as these are my favorites by the siblings. First we hear Pastora, in the Solea En dos vereas iguales...
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=z0j8kx19GT4

    Next we turn to Pastora's Siguiriyas El corazón de pena....
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GhzFr7CDbNc

    Next we hear Pastora's Solea Ahora te vas..... This definitely gives me chills.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kVrPcNyYDtc

    We finish Pastora's contribution with the Siguiriya A la Sierra de Armenia....
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZUylFfApRo
    Wow! This is magical stuff, no pun intended. What a voice. Melchor de Marchena is no slouch either. I noticed that he played with Tomas too. I actually listened to Tomas first only because it was the last post. I believe YouTube will be taking a hammering for the rest of the evening. Thanks again Strange Magic for these wonderful posts. A really fantastic journey. Like you I would have loved to hear them really stretching out without the time constraints of the 78 format. It's a pity they hadn't been born twenty years later but I suppose if they had we might not have the connection to the tradition that they had back in the early part of the twentieth century. If that last sentence makes any sense. Anyway, thanks again.
    Last edited by Barbebleu; Apr-25-2016 at 23:16.
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    Barbebleu, again I thank you so much for your expressions of appreciation for these articles. Welcome to the Club of the Few and the Proud who discern the strange and haunting magic of traditional cante flamenco!

    Melchor de Marchena was one of the very greatest of accompanists to cante--he was requested by all the most celebrated singers of his day: the Pavóns, Antonio Mairena, Manolo Caracol. He would be on any aficionado's list of the five top guitarists who exclusively accompanied singers. But these things are like the discussions in classical, where everybody has an opinion. However, Melchor is a sure bet.
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Apr-26-2016 at 04:14.

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  17. #39
    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    In some ways it reminds me of Indian Jugalbandi where two musicians in close proximity swap musical interchanges and where each listens to the other and contributes to create something unique and amazing.
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    Default Aurelio de Cádiz

    Supreme among the cantaores of Cádiz was Aurelio de Cádiz, aka Aurelio Sellé. Born in Cádiz in 1887, Aurelio was a disciple of the great gypsy gatidano (meaning "of Cádiz") cantaor Enrique el Mellizo, who was pivotal in developing the flamenco of that city. A payo (non-gypsy), Aurelio championed the place of the payo singer in the art of cante, and became a master of all palos, and also championed always the flamenco of his home city. He has a distinctive voice and delivery, and is regarded as among the greatest and most authentic of cantaores. Here is a large selection of his art. The guitarist, unless otherwise noted, should be assumed to be Ramón Montoya.

    First, we hear Soleares del Mellizo:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fVxy8rcvbBI

    Next, Bulerias. The guitarist is Andrés Heredia, a skillful accompanist.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cJUy5dG1lS8

    Here is Aurelio with a Malagueña del Mellizo:
    [url]https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3ql36W2kzdE[/url is

    Also, Fandangos de Huelva:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hGDojKHTPrs

    Next we have a palo misleadingly titled Tangos de Cádiz. It is actually the slower, related Tientos. The tocaor is Manuel Moreno "Morao" whom we met accompanying Terremoto. But here, Morao is heard "overplaying", drowning the palo in a torrent of notes; he always had a problem, due to his proficiency with his instrument, to forget his role as sympathetic accompanist, and so to generate "too many notes".
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yL3RRLDzK-M

    To conclude, the palo that Cádiz is best known for, the lighthearted Alegrías:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=R-CMqfJ6gfA
    Last edited by Strange Magic; May-03-2016 at 21:25.

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  21. #41
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    Here is the corrected link to the Malagueña del Mellizo:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3ql36W2kzdE

  22. #42
    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    Supreme among the cantaores of Cádiz was Aurelio de Cádiz, aka Aurelio Sellé. Born in Cádiz in 1887, Aurelio was a disciple of the great gypsy gatidano (meaning "of Cádiz") cantaor Enrique el Mellizo, who was pivotal in developing the flamenco of that city. A payo (non-gypsy), Aurelio championed the place of the payo singer in the art of cante, and became a master of all palos, and also championed always the flamenco of his home city. He has a distinctive voice and delivery, and is regarded as among the greatest and most authentic of cantaores. Here is a large selection of his art. The guitarist, unless otherwise noted, should be assumed to be Ramón Montoya.

    First, we hear Soleares del Mellizo:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fVxy8rcvbBI

    Next, Bulerias. The guitarist is Andrés Heredia, a skillful accompanist.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cJUy5dG1lS8

    Here is Aurelio with a Malagueña del Mellizo:
    [url]https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3ql36W2kzdE[/url is

    Also, Fandangos de Huelva:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hGDojKHTPrs

    Next we have a palo misleadingly titled Tangos de Cádiz. It is actually the slower, related Tientos. The tocaor is Manuel Moreno "Morao" whom we met accompanying Terremoto. But here, Morao is heard "overplaying", drowning the palo in a torrent of notes; he always had a problem, due to his proficiency with his instrument, to forget his role as sympathetic accompanist, and so to generate "too many notes".
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yL3RRLDzK-M

    To conclude, the palo that Cádiz is best known for, the lighthearted Alegrías:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=R-CMqfJ6gfA
    More fantastic stuff Strange. Muchos gracias. How would cantaor translate exactly? Just singer doesn't seem to do justice to what these performers are doing. BTW I have a bit of Ramon Montoya's solo stuff Terrific guitar player.
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  24. #43
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    As far as I know, cantaor is used exclusively to designate a flamenco singer, I guess in the sense that cantor is used for singers in the Jewish ritual. Ramón Montoya is always discussed as a crucial figure in flamenco guitar, for at least four reasons: he was a superb accompanist, so everybody wanted to sing with him; he created many falsetas that are still played today; all younger guitarists, like Sabicas, sought to emulate Montoya and mention him as a primary influence; and he was one of the first guitarists to present himself as a solo flamenco performer, alone on a stage with just a chair and his guitar. He also was Carlos Montoya's uncle.

    Again, glad you like my man Aurelio. Aurelio de Cádiz was the magnet that drew Gerald Howson to Cádiz to immerse himself in the flamenco lifestyle, as described in his book The Flamencos of Cádiz Bay. Aurelio complained some about the way he and Morao were recorded during the "Tangos de Cádiz" selection and the several others done at the same time. They were part of a historic flamenco anthology done in the 1960s called Antologia de Cante Flamenco y Cante Gitano and assembled and partly sung by his old rival, Antonio Mairena. Usually cantaors select their accompanists, but Mairena paired Aurelio with the too-dynamic Morao, and placed each far from the other with separate microphones. Aurelio complained that it was as though they were in separate rooms--this lack of close proximity may have led to Morao getting out of hand. But this selection and the others in that anthology show that Aurelio's voice just kept getting better and better, even though he was in his mid-seventies.
    Last edited by Strange Magic; May-05-2016 at 04:40.

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  26. #44
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    Default Sabicas & Company: Festival Gitana

    I previously remarked upon a recording of 1950s flamenco that did much to reinforce my love for and interest in this music. Issued by Elektra and recorded in New York, it featured the renowned Sabicas, along with his brother, Diego Castellón, and the almost equally renowned Mario Escudero as guitarists--Escudero playing as El Niño de Alicante due to contract issues. All three had served at one time or another as tocaores for the dancer Carmen Amaya. Two cantaores were included--Domingo Alvarado was a longtime payo singer in Amaya's troupe, and Enrique Montoya, a popular but considered lightweight gitano from Jerez. A duo of young Puerto Ricans calling themselves Los Trianeros who had become involved in flamenco provided jaleo, palmas and castanets, and thus completed the assemblage. Mind you, all these were traveling-troupe flamenco performers, mostly estranged from Franco's Spain, finding themselves together in New York City between gigs, and wanting perhaps to engage and record some flamenco that had less to do with the show biz "flamenco" of the troupes, and more to do with the Real Thing. But they knew their audience would mostly be not familiar with genuine cante, and so added castanets to several of the selections to make them seem more familiar. To my delight, I found recently that someone has put the whole album onto YouTube, recording it from a CD issued years later under another name, Flamenco Fiesta [sic]. Here it all is:
    https://m.youtube.com/playlist?list=...de7hvPDAuGi5sS

    People familiar only with the solo guitar of Sabicas, Escudero, Carlos Montoya, etc. were horrified at the raucous, uncouth sound of cante, and the record was mostly a flop. But it was of enormous importance to me in assuring my strong attachment to cante flamenco, and in helping me become familiar with many of the palos of flamenco. Alvarado and Montoya each rose to unexpected levels of excellence by alternating coplas in several of the palos. I have previously aired their Tientos, but here now you can hear their wonderful Fandangos, Verdiales, Fandangos de Huelva, and Sevillanas. Note also Montoya's Bulerias, Solea por Bulerias, and Siguiriyas, and Alvarado's Taranta and Martinete. This is not exactly flamenco that you would have heard in Spain, but it is as close to it as a traveling-troupe ensemble, far from their homeland, could get in the Big City.

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  28. #45
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    A few remarks on some of the palos heard on the Festival Gitana album: Verdiales is a cante chico, cante andaluz palo from the region around Málaga , as you can deduce from the shouts of the singers--it is somewhat similar to the Fandangos de Huelva. Sevillanas is not accepted by all as a flamenco palo-- it's often considered more of a folk/dance form, but it is popular as a feature of Spanish Dance presentations. For me, the outstanding performances on the album are Bulerias, Tientos, Fandangos, and Enrique Montoya's wrenching Siguiriyas. Both cantaores dug down into themselves during the recording of this album, I think because of the opportunity to work with Sabicas and Escudero together, and because of the mutual encouragement and sense that they were doing something rather special. Both singers rarely ever sang so convincingly as on this disk.
    Last edited by Strange Magic; May-12-2016 at 04:27.

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