|The flamenco identity of Jesús Ruiz-Cabello Méndez, “Jesús Méndez” (Jerez de la Frontera, 1984) comes straight from the blood. The same blood that flowed through the turbulent veins of La Paquera. That great Francisca would today be proud of this young relative of hers, soon to be married. Another great natural resource whom many flamenco fans are counting on to provide continuity from the seismic activity of the San Miguel neighborhood of Jerez. We’re talking about pure flamenco.
The year isn’t shaping up too badly for you so far. You’re like a bullfighter in high season, here today, there tomorrow and someplace else the day after.
I can’t complain. I just got back from France which was a great experience with Belén Maya, Rafael Rodríguez and the rest. It’s been two months of comings and goings during which we traveled the whole country. It was great, we were well-received and learned a lot, which is the most important thing.
The tour of Spain is also very important to me, although it’s a different level of venue. Especially important is next Thursday in Huesca. I’m going with Diego del Morao for a tribute to Moraíto, which is an honor.
How do you come to be in Huesca?
Some gypsies there organized it, perfect. It’s not part of the regular route, but look, Morao is admired in a lot of places.
Weren’t your neighborhoods rivals?
Not at all. There have always been good vibes between Santiago and San Miguel.
What kind of show are you bringing to Corral de la Morería?
It’s a classic recital. Miguel Salado is accompanying me on guitar and we’ll do, I don’t know, eight or nine cantes. Nowadays they contract you by time, and you have to have plenty of repertoire prepared.
And what’s that about singing flamenco zarzuela, or light opera?
Well, it’s a novelty. We’re going to Bilbao and doing the zarzuela “Entre Sevilla y Triana”. I have to do four or five different cantes, they haven’t specified which yet. It’s not that Pablo Sorozábal put alegrías or soleares in his work…this is an adaptation after the fact. It’s scheduled for the end of June.
When people like Miguel Poveda talk about promising young flamenco artists, your name always comes up. What about that recording of yours he was going to sponsor?
We’re working on it, and it’s coming along. We’ll surely present it at the Bienal de Sevilla in the middle of September. There’s still no title. David Lagos and me are trying to think something up. I’m just a flamenco singer, there isn’t much more to me, I need outside help [laughter].
There’ll be about ten or twelve cantes, and the guitarists Antonio Rey, Diego del Morao, Miguel Salado, Parrilla…
“That was another era. I don’t think it’s that way any more. Decades ago it wasn’t just bulerías or soleá por bulerías. I’ve got records of Paquera where she sings granaína, bambera…Terremoto singing the caña… It’s what made them great artists, that’s how it should be”.
What about Poveda?
I’d like him to be part of it, but he’s so busy…he’s also collaborating with Dorantes. I’m very proud of it all.
First, with Gerardo Núñez behind you, and for your second recording, Miguel Poveda as your benefactor. How do the two works differ?
Mostly in the cantes. Now I have more repertoire. There’s malagueña, taranta…I offer a wider repertoire that looks far afield. Flamenco has many styles, not just bulerías, we all know this…it’s quite another thing to sing them.
Yes, because Jerez is guilty of being limited like that…
Right, but that was another era. I don’t think it’s that way any more. Decades ago it wasn’t just bulerías or soleá por bulerías. I’ve got records of Paquera where she sings granaína, bambera…Terremoto singing the caña… It’s what made them great artists, that’s how it should be.
For example, I’ve learned a lot working with dancers. Belén Maya, Rocío Molina, Mercedes Ruiz, Andrés Marín…he really knows a lot about cante. They’ve opened up my perspective on all this. By the way, this isn’t going to be the second one. In actual fact, the second recording is about to come out, we presented it at the Festival de Jerez.
What’s that about?
It’s military songs that me and Manuel Valencia gave a flamenco spin to. A relative of Manuel’s had an incredible collection of songs from the war in Cuba, the Phillipines… Between Manuel and me we put them to alegrías and such. The record is called “Rojo y Gualda”, and if all the military people in Spain buy it, it’ll be the biggest seller of all time [laughter]. This relative of Manuel’s says he wants us to put out more of this stuff, because the repertoire is enormous, and nice material, not what you might think. The work was sponsored by the Defense Ministry, and we may even do a tour of military installations, you never know…
Just like I said…you have to learn to sing everything.
If Paquera could only see you…
Well, she’d approve. Getting back to what I was saying before… Now they ask you for recitals by the amount of time, and if they want an hour and a half of cante, you obviously can’t serve just two plates, bulerías and tangos. You have to sing taranta, siguiriya, granaína, all of it…and do it well. That was Paquera, total cante. It wasn’t just that bulerías temperament of hers. She’s the one I look up to, but also Antonio Mairena, Terremoto, Juan Talega, Manolito de María…