THE MADRID FLAMENCO SCENE
Juan Carmona “Camborio” /Josemi Carmona/Juan José Suárez “Paquete”
José Manuel Gómez Gufi
For years we’ve been accustomed to pointing out and celebrating the geographic area as a defining element of each performer, and Madrid has remained a sort of stop along the way, the place you go to make it big. Madrid is the podium and the trenches, the place to receive laurels and where you have to earn them the hard way. A few years ago Jorge Pardo and Josemi Carmona were presented at WOMEX as representatives of Andalusia (?). As I remember it, only the bassist was an Andalusian native and/or resident. If you draw a circle from the center of the Plaza Santa Ana of 300 meters radius, we find an overwhelming percentage of the history of flamenco (and we also run across Hemingway in one of his fifteen favorite bars, and with Ava Gardner returning home in the wee hours and…Frank Sinatra following close behind).
So three of our greatest guitarists, Juan Carmona “Camborio”, Josemi Carmona and Juan José Suárez “Paquete” are the object of a tribute to the “flamenco scene” of Madrid, because it’s what they’ve grown up with, a scene that’s universal because so is Madrid.
It’s an oblique proposition, and goes beyond the fact that there are two ex-members of Ketama and one from the Barbería group. In other words, they begin in Camarón and Paco, passing through Las Grecas and Los Chichos and instead of trying to reproduce the sound of “Caño Roto” cooked up by producer José Luis de Carlos, we hear him in flamenco format, unplugged, can you imagine what Las Grecas sounded like in tablaos when they first arrived from Argentina?
It was the debut of a show that’s done a lot of touring. When Josemi Carmona pays tribute to Paco de Lucía, it sounds like Josemi Carmona’s declaration of love for the greatest guitarist in the world. Then he comes down and plays for Jorge Pardo and Carles Benavent, the buddies on that adventure. And the best tribute is knowing the creature is alive and well and comes with just the right amount of nostalgia.
The show began with “Africa” with all the members gathered in a circle singing unamplified with the guitar of Josemi, the “Shongai” is a project that continues to exist as demonstrated a year ago in London, Fez and Zaragoza with the reencounter with Toumani Diabaté, and was followed by “Lo Bueno y lo Malo” in a tribute to Ray Heredia.
And each of the guitarists took care of a territory, so Josemi coordinated the tribute to Los Chichos, Juan Carmona did the same for Las Grecas and Manzanita and Paquete for Camarón and Morente. We have to highlight the rhythm section, on the one hand, “El Moreno”, a percussionist from Granada, nephew of the Habichuelas who was present and has all the rhythm needed, and a very contemporary beat, on the bass Antonio Ramos “Maca” who recently released “Hotel Groove”, a record of jazz that wouldn’t made sense without the flamenco scene. Special mention for Enriquito, sober and delicate on the trumpets. On the other side are Rafita de Madrid who stood out in “La Primavera”, Kiki Cortiñas fantastic for Manzanita and Lya, magnificent singing Las Grecas.
El Camborio dedicated the final round to Mario Pacheco, who cooked up “new flamenco” with his label Nuevos Medios and they sang “Alegrías de Vivir” of Ray Heredia and “No Estamos Locos”.
Flamenco owes a lot to Madrid, and Madrid owes a lot to flamenco, and before getting deeper into debt, it’s a good idea to learn to recognize the “duendes” that roam the streets of Madrid.
Photo gallery by David Mudarra