Festival Círculo Flamenco de Madrid/ Tribute to Gálvez
The tribute to José Luis Gálvez was affectionate recognition of the unrewarded work of flamenco followers who love this artform above all else.
José Manuel Gómez Gufi
One night when I was watching Torta in Suristán, Alfredo Grimaldos said: “this guy is a genius”. At that point in time, I’d never used the word “genius” to describe any singer of this kind. The man being honored, José Luis Gálvez, was decisive in the recording of the Torta’s “Momentos” (2007), a singer who in later years made me change my perspective.
The Círculo Flamenco de Madrid is a model organization that with no outside support, and being non-profit, has managed to communicate a way of understanding flamenco singing, here and now, that has a lot to do with that way of listening to flamenco they tell us is dying, and which survives amidst the intimacy of followers of the art at the García Lorca room (Casa Patas) and in sessions of the Círculo.
The Marcelino Camacho auditorium of the CCOO had good attendance with plenty of veterans and a nearly perfect script, two interpretations per singer. Jesús Méndez, the nephew of Paquera, came on with his usual serious demeanor and the guitar of Diego del Morao tickling our ears inside and out, quoting his father’s music with a smile all his own.
From Jerez to Utrera with Diego el Cabrillero who deserves being heard the way Gálvez did, in a more comfortable setting for the singer. Luis Moneo with Domingo Rubichi also gave the impression that this was not the best profile, and brilliantly wrapped up his songs. Then came Cancanilla de Málaga, and between Antonio Moya and his guitar and the rhythm, it seemed like a whole orchestra.
Someone with a quirky sense of humor put Fernando de la Morena’s “papas aliñas” on Youtube with images of South African dancers. A clever prank until yours truly saw Tomasito at the Soweto carnival getting the twelve tribes present (including one of vuvuzelas, the buzz of the soccer championship in 2010) to dance bulerías. That way of singing Fernando de la Morena has, connects with a way of feeling the music, that it makes no difference if you’re from another planet or continent, it communicates with human beings in general.
The job was wrapped up by Antonio Reyes and Diego del Morao who made a live recording that shows how two artists in a good moment can record without rehearsal, just like they say flamenco used to be, without safety measures. Antonio sang alegrías (Camarón style) and ended with siguiriyas. Everything terrific, measured and spot on, 140 minutes without intermission with the rhythm of Chícharo, Rafa Romero, Diego Montoya y José Rubichi. None of that neverending festival stuff. Gálvez’ widow received an award before the bulerías. Once again, Cancanilla was impeccable without a microphone, followed by Jesús Méndez bare-chested. The rest continued their turns with amplification and before Antonio Reyes returned, the whole thing came to an end, it had been a tribute to a person we just lost.
There were no fashionable hipsters, nor the usual complaints and arguments. We were left with the feeling that what really mattered was the behind-the-scenes effort of a group of serious flamenco-lovers that came into the spotlight for a night that was worthwhile (a lot) to return to their sessions where little flamenco spirits and big emotions flow freely.
Photos & videos: Rafael Manjavacas