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Thread: Thoughts About Cante Flamenco

  1. #76
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Default Al-Andalus

    Every time I've encountered a reference to the origin of the name Andalusia, it has been stated that it is derived from the Arabic Al-Andalus and means Land of the Vandals. The Vandals, as we remember, were a Germanic tribe who, besides "vandalizing" Rome, worked their way into the south of what was left of Roman Spain and set up shop. Then, in the mid-400s AD, they crossed the Straits of Gibralter into North Africa, to annoy and then crush the remnants of the Romans there. They evidently all crossed, and left Spain open for the Visigoths, who replaced them as overlords of Spain.

    But it turns out that here are several expanations of the origin of the name Andalusia. I've read a fascinating book, God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215 by David Levering Lewis. Lewis tells us that Andalusia is a corruption of a Gothic phrase, landa-hlauts or "land lots", referring to the various landholdings of the Visigoth nobility.

    I decided to check this out on Wikipedia, and there found also reference to Al-Andalus being proposed to mean Atlantis, and thus having nothing to do with the Vandals. Also, it turns out that there are several places in Spain that predate the Arab-Moorish invasions named either Andaluz, or having Anda or Luz as part of their names. And considering that the Arab-Moorish invasion of Spain occurred centuries after the Vandals had packed up and left, and been replaced by the Visigoths in what is now Andalusia, why would the Arabs have called the region Al-Andalus and not Al-Visigothia?

    Wikipedia makes it clear that there is now no definitive consensus on the original source of the word Andalusia. Interesting. Right up there with speculations on the origin of the word "flamenco".

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  3. #77
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Default Some Further Corrections

    I post these odds and ends mostly from memory, and sometimes my memory is bad. So, looking over some of these items, I find errors of fact and strive to correct them thusly:

    In my entry on Siguiriyas, I listed the guitarist accompanying Estrella Morente as Juan "Pepe" Habichuela. It should merely be Pepe Habichuela. His brother, though, is Juan Habichuela.

    In my entry on Saetas, I named Manuel Mairena as son of Antonio Mairena. In fact, he was Antonio's brother.

    In my entry on Serranas, I wrote that the Caravaggio biopic was Italian. There is indeed an Italian biopic about Caravaggio, but there also is an English one, and the Serrana appears there.

    As they always say in the magazines and on the Tube, "We regret the error(s)!"

  4. #78
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Default Rito y Geográfica, and Beni de Cádiz

    I want again to congratulate JosefinaHW for his independently discovering the amazing Rito y Geográfica series of flamenco videos available on YouTube. I probably should have posted about these treasures far earlier in this thread than I did, but JosefinaHW corrected that. And now they can easily be accessed via the link to Brook Zern's website that I posted a few entries back. These provide an almost encyclopedic reference of the key singers and guitarists (and some dancers) that formed the backbone of flamenco up until the time of their release in the early 1970s; they also provide wonderful grounding in learning the various flamenco palos so that through repeated exposure, one can begin to quickly recognize each individual form. As an example, for anyone who has not yet checked out any of the Rito series, here is the episode featuring one of my favorite (I have a bunch) cantaores, Beni de Cádiz:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=QvKbaysrOgc

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  6. #79
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Default Cantes Mineros, and Encarnación Fernández

    One can get lost in the weeds of flamenco: the history, genealogy, classification of the scores of palos, and there are plenty of resources to dig for the info. Norman Kliman's and Brook Zern's websites are good places to look. The cante andaluz palos are especially hard to untangle. The Cantes de Levante have as a subdivision the Cantes Mineros, the songs of the mining districts of southeastern Spain. I have previously offered selections performed by La Paquera and by Carmen Linares of such palos; Carmen Linares being especially recognized as a master of Tarantas and its close cousins. Here I offer two selections by another specialist in these mining songs, Encarnación Fernández. She is accompanied by her father, Antonio Fernández. Like many of these Cantes Mineros, the guitar phrasings are haunting and vaguely disquieting.

    First, we hear the palo called Mineras, which is clearly a very subtly different version of the Taranta:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1b5TpwvDAQw

    Next is a Tarantas:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Kg4JHE0ULPU

    Tastes differ, but I find these mining songs, usually laments, quite moving, and the performances are often very earnest indeed.

    Here is a link to a relevant post by Brook Zern: http://www.flamencoexperience.com/blog/?p=1489
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Jul-07-2016 at 20:43.

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  8. #80
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Default Saetas, Serranas, and the Westminster/Hispavox Anthology

    This post revisits two of my favorite palos, and allows introduction to the great, classic 3 LP Anthology of Cante Flamenco that was released in the 1950s and formed the Bible, the Encyclopedia, and the stimulus for so many non-Spaniards to become involved with flamenco. Evidently a group of French aficionados approached the very knowledgeable guitarist Perico el del Lunar viejo, who performed regularly at a flamenco tablao in Madrid with the idea of recording the palos of flamenco. Perico knew many singers, spoke with them, and agreed to do the project for a fixed price. Had he instead chosen a percentage of the sales, he would have ended up a far richer man. The anthology was a milestone in the preservation of classic cante, and set a standard that endures today.

    Perico viejo's guitar work is unmistakeable--it has a quiet, unforced, "world-weary" three o'clock in the morning sound unmatched by any other tocaor. His rapport with the singers was legendary, and his knowledge of the palos complete-- he even taught several of the more obscure palos to some of the singers.

    Here from the Anthology are two of my favorite palos. First we hear 4 Saetas, bracketed by the brass band that typify these Holy Week utterances. They are alternately sung by Lolita Triana and Roque Montoya, aka Jarrito. These Saetas definitely give me chills.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8hFVwfs-dGg

    Next we conclude with Serranas as sung by the incomparable payo cantaor, Pepe el de la Matrona. Perico accompanies. You may wish to go back and check out both the previously posted Saetas and Serranas, just to again familiarize yourself with these two palos.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gh4pXu1Cnig
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Jul-14-2016 at 09:37.

  9. #81
    Senior Member JosefinaHW's Avatar
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    In Post #8, Strange Magic gave us a saeta performed by Manuel Mairena, one of the brothers of the cantaor Antonio Mairena. The following are two more saetas performed by Manuel; they are made even more powerful to me by their setting in two glorious churches in Seville.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2v5z...n7ZrZCdqHQD74b

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Kh4...n7ZrZCdqHQD74b

    Standing behind Mairena in the second video are Jose de la Tomasa and Mercedes Cubero. Videos of them performing saetas are also available on YouTube, but I find that saetas are so especially weighty they have to be taken in small doses.

    Moving now to a tiento, the emotion is still dark and intense but much lighter.


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PSU...n7ZrZCdqHQD74b

    The tocaor in the tiento/tango is my favorite so far, Manolo Franco. He is extremely attentive to the contaor but he still plays with spirit.

    Ending well-above the clouds is the episode of Rito y Geografia featuring Antonio Mairena, another brother and several absolutely delightful friends. Enjoy! and Many Thanks to Strange Magic for introducing us all to this amazing world of Cante Flamenco!!!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyR-...n7ZrZCdqHQD74b
    Last edited by JosefinaHW; Jul-20-2016 at 22:00. Reason: spelling

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  11. #82
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    JosefinaHW, very fine selections! Antonia Mairena was a very big factor in flamenco history and performance in the middle years of the last century, and your post offers us a penetrating glimpse into his art and his gitanismo perspective. He was most important in keeping traditional cante alive and pure in the face of powerful "modernizing" pressures, plus he knew everybody, and helped a lot of people in their careers: José Greco was indebted to Mairena for helping him staff his troupe, and Mairena also recommended Domingo Alvarado to Carmen Amaya when she was looking for a lead cantaor for her troupe. As the R y G clip shows, he won many awards for both his singing and his dedication to maintaining the standards of cante.

    Manuel Mairena's Saetas are superb, as is his Tientos y Tangos, which were a textbook example of one of my favorite palos. ¡Viva Cante Flamenco!

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  13. #83
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Default More Saetas, and Alan Lomax

    The indefatigable folklorist Alan Lomax, with tape recorder in his luggage, traveled throughout Spain in the early 1950s, trailed almost everywhere by Franco's police. He released several LPs, one of which featuring the music--folk and flamenco--he was hearing and recording on the street, in bars, in fields. I acquired one such--music of Seville and vicinity, which contained some fine cante as it was being performed without thought of recording, right in front of Lomax. Now, Lomax's entire library of field recordings can be accessed on a dedicated website archive, and here is the link to his recorded Saetas, 1952. If one explores the site with some diligence, you will find much flamenco, sorted by palos (look under category genres, alphabetically). One final thought: it has been pointed out by people much more knowledgable than I am that Lomax was not specifically familiar with flamenco, and recorded many things as flamenco or as some specific palo which are not necessarily so. The Saetas, though, are clearly Saetas.

    http://research.culturalequity.org/r...eId&sortBy=abc

    Lomax was finally driven out of Spain by the harassment of the regime.
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Jul-22-2016 at 03:59.

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    Default Donn Pohren: Interview

    In one of my earliest posts on flamenco, I recommended some books. The first two were essential works on this music by American expatriate and flamencophile Donn Pohren. While people outside of Spain for decades had been aware of something called flamenco through traveling troupes of "Spanish Dance" companies, offering a hodge-podge of Spanish folk dance, ballet, and some flamenco--even a bit of cante, among the castanets and posturing--real cante flamenco and its place in flamenco awaited two significant revelations. The first was the Westminster/Hispavox 3LP set, Anthology of Cante Flamenco, that I have referenced several times. The second was the publication of Donn Pohren's The Art of Flamenco in 1962. Pohren's book unleashed a wave of young Americans and other non-Spaniards, who traveled to Andalusia to get into the flamenco scene that Pohren evoked in his book; many stopping in Morón, there to listen to Diego del Gastor accompany a small coterie of distinguished singers who had worked closely with him for years. Pohren's Art of Flamenco and his later Lives and Legends of Flamenco thus were very likely the single most potent factors in a resurgent interest in classic cante among non-Spaniards, and also in triggering a renewed interest among Spaniards and especially Andalusians themselves in their indigenous music. Pohren thus occupies a special place in the history of cante. Here is an interview he gave to Jon Rhine of Salon in 1999, where he gives a bit of his personal history:

    http://www.salon.com/1999/10/02/pohren/

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  17. #85
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Default José Menese, and Peteneras

    One of the finest and most admired cantaores of the last 50 years died recently, José Menese Scott, passing away at the age of 74 on July 29 of this year. José Menese, as he was known, was a payo singer born near Seville who from an early age was seen to be someone to watch in flamenco circles. A disciple of Antonio Mairena, he later fulfilled all expectations, being awarded many of the awards and honors that have sprung up in Spain to recognize flamenco as an art. A master of many palos, Menese became known for his association with Peteneras, a cante intermedio, cante andaluz palo that tells of La Petenera, a girl of sinister reputation who destroys men's hearts but herself dies in a crime of passion. Here are several selections of Menese, accompanied by Enrique de Melchor, the son of Melchor de Marchena. Both father and son were associated with Menese over his career.

    First we have Siguiriyas:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HyDJfuPzCC4

    Next, a classic Soleares:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ12gR1Fru8

    And, finally, Peteneras:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ix5wT5y5RH4

    One does not hear Peteneras often, but Pastora Pavón and Rafael Romero also sang it regularly, and Menese continued to ensure that it did not sink into obscurity.
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Aug-01-2016 at 17:04.

  18. #86
    Senior Member JosefinaHW's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Strange Magic;1099770]...Real cante flamenco and its place in flamenco awaited two significant revelations. The first was the Westminster/Hispavox 3LP set, Anthology of Cante Flamenco, that I have referenced several times."

    The Antologia del Cante Flamenco was released in a two CD box set in 1988.

    You can listen to it free on Spotify:
    https://open.spotify.com/user/fcalle...fE9bShea4p8NFZ

    The artwork on the cover of the box set is different from that shown on Spotify. The CD set is out-of-print but you can search every so often for a good price. I paid $44. a few months ago. It is currently $400 on Amazon.US.

    free photo hosting
    Last edited by JosefinaHW; Aug-09-2016 at 09:06.

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  20. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    Thoughts on the recent death of one of the greatest gypsy cantaores in the history of flamenco. I included examples of Agujetas singing both Martinetes and Fandangos in my review of the palos of flamenco. The following is found on Brook Zern's wonderful blog.

    Flamenco Singer Manuel Agujetas – Obituary by Manuel Bohórquez – translated by Brook Zern
    by Brook Zern

    Flamenco Song’s Last Cry of Grief

    By Manolo Bohorquez

    from El Correo de Andalucía, December 25, 2015

    A flamenco singer has died. Not just any singer, which would be terrible news. No, one of the greatest masters of Gypsy song (cante gitano). Yes, Gypsy, because that’s what Agujetas always was and always wanted to be. His father, Agujetas el Viejo, was also a singer, a Gypsy from Rota with a sound that came from centuries ago, metallic, dark as a cave, that put you in the last room of the blood. Manuel de los Santos Pastor, or Agujetas, who died this morning in Jerez, was the only one who remained of those Gypsies who took the song from the marrow of his bones, a singer who only had the song, who felt alone since the day he was born and who sang so he would not die of solitude. Unsociable, a strange person among strange people, as were Manuel Torres and Tomás Pavón [perhaps the two greatest male flamenco singers who ever lived]. Manuel Agujetas detested anything that was not the flamenco song or freedom, and who fled from stereotypes or academic schools, from technique, from treatises, from la ojana. He was, in the best sense of the word, a wild animal. Some critics reproached him for being too rough, disordered and anarchic, but he had the gift, that thing that correct and professional singers lack. That they can’t even dream of. You can fake a voice to sing Gypsy flamenco, but Manuel never faked anything. He was the Gypsy voice par excellence, the owner of what Manuel Torres called the duende, the black sounds that captivated the early flamenco expert Demófilo and García Lorcca. A stripped-down cry that could kill you in the fandango of El Carbonerillo, but that when it was applied to [deep song styles like] the siguiriyas or the martinetes, reached a terrible dramatic intensity. No one sounded as Gypsy as Agujetas, with such profundity. No flamenco singer carried his voice to such depths, even though he could be a disaster on a stage, not knowing how to deal with the accompanying guitar and repeating verses and styles to a point of overload. There is no such thing as “Agujeta-ism”, or attempting to copy his inimitable style; but his admirers are found all over the world and have always been faithful to him. A minority, to be sure, but devoted unto death. And they have not claimed official honors for him, as happens with other singers of his generation, They have loved his art and have wanted to experience it, knowing that he was unique and without parallel. Manuel had a charisma that wasn’t for stadiums or big theaters, but for an intimate setting. Someone who has an old LP of Manuel Agujetas feels as if he has a treasure, a relic, something sacred. And someone who heard him on a stage, with that antique aspect, that scar on his face and those sunken eyes, knows that on that day he lived a truly unique moment. Surely this death won’t make headlines or be reported on radio or TV. And what else? Those of us who heard him during an outdoor summer festival in a small town, or a small theater or a flamenco club will never forget it, because in each line, in each of his chilling moments, Manuel nailed to our soul a way of rendering deep song that didn’t die today, with his disappearance, but that died decades ago. It will be a long time before another Gypsy is born, if one is born at all, who has such an ability to wound you with his singing. And when he wounds you fatally, when it kills you, it is a desirable death. The last great pain, the last great grief of song has gone. May he rest in peace.

    End of article in El Correo de Andalucía of December 25th, 2015. The original is at http://elcorreoweb.es/cultura/el-ult...ante-AI1183398, Olé to Manuel Bohórquez, and a final olé to Manuel Agujetas, the greatest singer I ever knew and the greatest singer I ever heard. Please refer to other entries in this blog for more translations and opinion about Manuel Agujetas.

    Brook Zern
    brookzern@gmail.com
    Flamencoexperience.com
    Agujetas: Tres Generaciones (39 songs, 2 hours 27 minutes) is free to listen on Spotify or YouTube

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    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6tt...vK_ASzUGv1eSFF

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  22. #88
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Default Deflamenco, and Juan Carmona Carmona (Juan Habichuela)

    One of the great accompanists of classic cante, the guitarist Juan Habichuela, died recently. Juan Habichuela accompanied young Estrella Morente in the Soleares clip that first introduces that palo in this collection of articles. One of the best websites for ongoing news of flamenco is deflamenco. Here is a brief biography and appreciation of Habichuela by deflamenco writer and learned flamencophile Estela Zatania:

    http://www.deflamenco.com/revista/no...33-2016-1.html

    Thanks to JosefinaHW's energy for triggering this appreciation of both Habichuela and the excellent deflamenco website. Added to the sites of Norman Kliman and Brook Zern, deflamenco is a rich resource of flamenco lore, facts, and news.
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Aug-09-2016 at 12:57.

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    Default El Lebrijano

    2016 is proving to be an "end of an era" year for flamenco, especially among cantaores. El Lebrijano was yet another singer of classic cante, dying recently at a seemingly young age. Here is Estela Zatania's report in deflamenco:

    http://www.deflamenco.com/revista/no...41-2016-1.html

    Here is El Lebrijano singing Tientos y Tangos, to give an example of his art:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=w24wZZloEHk

    And here is El Lebrijano singing por siguiriyas, accompanied by Pedro Peña and Pedro Bacán:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0olNos2fKKs
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Aug-11-2016 at 04:45.

  24. #90
    Senior Member JosefinaHW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by starthrower View Post
    I understand what you are saying, but I happen to be a contemporary music fan. I enjoy modern music and musicians that draw from the well of tradition, and incorporate these influences into a contemporary musical format. .... If other musicians want to preserve their folk heritage by trying to re-create music of the past, that's up to them. But my feeling is you can't go back...."
    :StarThrower: Traditional Cante Flamenco is timeless. When I and many other fans listen to it we are not trying to re-create music of the past or return to the past. Cante Flamenco is an art dedicated to human emotions. We experience the same emotions as people who lived 50, 100, 1000, 3000 years ago! Will evolution change the existence of or the nature of human emotions? I don't know, but as of now it has not.
    Last edited by JosefinaHW; Aug-11-2016 at 08:18.

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