Paco de Lucía’s “Canción Andaluza” by José María Bandera, El Amir, Josemi Garzón, Israel Katumba & Eva Durán
José Manuel Gómez Gufi
The Berlin café wraps up its “flamenco de Club” festival with a concert devoted to “Canción Andaluza” with guitarists José María Bandera and El Amir.
Interpreting Paco de Lucía’s posthumous recording “Canción Andaluza” is something many interpreters could do. On this record Paco takes a very personal journey through Spanish lyrical song, but that is what has been done by all the artists who’ve taken on this genre (including rap singers, Miguel Poveda and Serrat). So the merit of José María Bandera (nephew of the genius from Algeciras) and El Amir is in recording the maestro from their perspective of musicians and creators.
In other words, you jump onto the wagon because it’s full of nostalgia, and as soon as you’re on, you realize it’s moving thanks to creativity. Remember that the record came out after the guitarist’s death, which is why there’s no live performance associated, and this is where the chronicle probably invalidates the headline: Is it possible to reinvent Paco de Lucía?
We can follow his steps to the extent that, record by record, he revealed his creative pulse, and how it took shape in live performance keeping the connection with flamenco tradition, with what the audience wants to hear and with the creative force itself. So it’s worth remembering that the concept of the show he offered throughout his career was rather standardized and barely changed when musicians were substituted. José María Bandera was in two groups along with his uncle in the trio with Cañizares from 1989 to 1992, and in the sextet from 1999 to 2001.
And it was Bandera who opened the concert that closed out the second festival of the Café Berlin. Following him was the other guitar soloist, El Amir who admirably represents the passion for Paco’s guitar of millions of musicians throughout the world. Amir John Addad was born in Germany to a Palestinian/Columbian family, and early on went to Jerez to study flamenco guitar. In his mind and in his fingers is infinite music and he brings together innumerable aesthetics and yet…he is the most flamenco of the guitarists, the most faithful to Paco’s playing.
The quartet was rounded out with bassist Josemi Garzón, and percussionist Israel Katumba. That model, the quartet, was never used by Paco de Lucía. They did “Ojos Verdes” and it sounded like Paco’s version, while also sounding different. No tricks here.
Amir brought out a lute and we all wondered if anyone plays that in “Canción Andaluza”. In fact, on Zyryab the person playing the mandolin is Carles Benavent. The concert sounded as friendly as the record for the attentive audience. Once again we applaud the people who go to the Berlin, turning the club into the best auditorium.
The second part began in reverse order, that is to say, the bassist and percussionist did their thing, lyrical songs and pasodobles, in addition to “Zyryab”, a composition which for years has appeared in jazz clubs and which was finished off with Eva Durán with siguiriyas (I think), I’m not sure because it was one of those moments in which you’re sent to the stratosphere and you’re in no mood to study whether or not what is being sung pertains to known models or something yet to be discovered.
Eva Duran has experience in that frontier now traveled by several generations of musicians (from flamenco and from jazz) and when it all starts to sound like Havanna with “Señorita” (the piece Oscar de León sings on the record with the arrangement of Alain Pérez), finishing up with a bunch of guajira verses that fit right in with the landscape.
Video & photos: Rafael Manjavacas