Pablo San Nicasio
New record releases of cante, guitar, instrumentals. Flamenco books, sheet music…
The death knell of Spain’s recording industry has not yet been signed. However, this sector’s vitality is about equal to that of a dry twig. The first gust of wind could sweep it away any day now. At least as far as flamenco goes.
The term “self-production” has become well-known among flamenco artists, although they haven’t completely given up on the support of the big record companies who provide the valuable services of distribution, communication and promotion, all complicated issues for the person who makes the musical contribution.
Nevertheless, there are more and more artists who explore the possibilities of foreign record companies as an alternative to “the cook eating his own dishes”.
Material which is marginally profitable still continues to come from the big names who have something new to offer, or who simply re-issue earlier work more or less known by flamenco fans, but not sufficiently exploited in a market always on the lookout for something new, even though it may not be as new as promised in the promotion.
The crowning success of the year, when a good number of big stars made new recordings, was “ArteSano”. For the simple reason that Miguel Poveda is the “aircraft carrier” of an industry that now navigates in treacherous uncharted waters. This work in the form of a record was an authentic call to attention about the box office clout of Poveda’s name, and the work included classy collaborations, not to mention the venue, the Teatro Real.
In this vein, months later, Estrella Morente. A singer who welcomed the autumn with her reappearance in recording after a long absence from the shelves of record stores.
Noteworthy were new productions from two Jerez cousins: Vicente Soto with his “Colores Distintos” and José Mercé. The latter hit the market with his “Única Llave” produced by Javier Limón. Around the same time singer Duquende came out with “Rompecabezas” thanks to the valuable help of super-producer Pepe de Lucía.
Other work came out this year from artists such as the always interesting Jesús Méndez, Celia Romero, Toñi Fernández, Antonio Mejías, Sebastián Cruz, Carmen de la Jara, Sonia Miranda, Juan Carmona, Gema Caballero, Piculabe and Rocío Márquez, voices of the future. The explosive Guadiana and Diego Carrasco also joined forces in 2012, along with the fresh piano sound of María Toleda, as well as “El Negri”, always flamenco attributable to Armando Manzanero.
And lastly, two recordings that go beyond the standard level: “Solo Flamenco” by a José Valencia who was always meant to be the boss in heavy-duty cante, and “Viaje por el Cante” by Argentina who this year consolidated her position as a major star of flamenco.
In guitar as well several top figures added interest not present in the panorama of 2011. Of the biggest names, only Paco de Lucía (who was awarded a Latin Grammy he failed to collect), Vicente Amigo and Tomatito gave no signs of life, although new work is expected in 2013.
The new crop of guitarists has a wide range of talent. And among the newcomers, three names stand out. Dani de Morón, finally came out with a solo album, “Cambio de Sentido”. The oldest of the three, Pakete, with his record “Mr. Pakett” unveiled at Madrid’s Casa Patas. And the very young and surprising Amós Lora. At just 12 years old his record “Cerro Negro” is more than a simple indication of technical prowess in a child prodigy. The creative possibilities of this boy from Salamanca boggle the mind.
Unquestionable guitarists such as Niño Josele and Jesús de Rosario revisited the market. Pedro Sierra again demonstrated his condition of “under wraps” but a force to be taken into consideration, and Cañizares lit up the panorama with his laborious work of transcription of “Goyesces” of Granados.
To sum up this chapter, let it be known that Gerardo Núñez continues to be a genius. With focal dystonia included, he was able to give us yet another work which is beyond the reach of most interpreters. “Travesía”, or the eternal journey through guitar of a musician who does not suffer in silence, but rather manages to enjoy himself no matter what.
Camerata Flamenco Project, Jorge Pardo and Carles Benavent gave everything in a year in which the instrumental spotlight was mostly on the piano.
Almost a vestige of earlier flamenco times, 2012 was a good year for piano, with special attention to Dorantes and Diego Amador who each used the keyboard to show they are among the strongest talents in this specialty.
Despite a bad situation, the publishing industry didn’t deteriorate that much, and in flamenco the great works are not “pirated” as happens with music, perhaps the only true flamenco product. This year we lost one of the main writers, José Blas Vega, some of whose works are frankly outstanding.
Other books were “Coraje”, José Luis Ortiz Nuevo’s tribute to dance master José Otero whose “Tratado de Bailes” was reprinted.
Francis Mármol, in his easy-going style, wrote “Boquerón de la Isla” about Camarón’s relationship with flamenco and the Málaga society of his day.
Two books deserve special attention. The first, by two authors and accompanied by a CD, which pays tribute to the short and amazing life of “Repompa de Málaga”, and another, perhaps the best written work of the year, a biographical study of Rancapino. Pedro A. Quiñones gave us his “Rancapino: Ronco de Andar Descalzo” presented early in the year, the best bibliographic work in a year when the reprinting of sheet music was the order of the day.
Classic authors of instructional works such as Óscar Herrero, Paco Peña and Jorge Berges mixed with newcomers such as Paul Martínez and Juan Lorenzo, in addition to refreshing new takes on the work of Niño Ricardo, Sabicas and Luisa Ortega.
Anthologies and other educational material continued to be the most popular items in DVD, a sector which is suffering the same woes as the parent companies.
2012 saw the continued decline of new releases, although some products are worthy of mention. The central work was “Real”. This is the complete film of Miguel Poveda’s anthological concert at the Teatro Real which also served as formal calling card of the above-mentioned “ArteSano”. But since Poveda is a bottomless pit, we also have the second part of the recital with the main “coplas” and some footage of the preparation (the so-called making-of), all frankly quite interesting.
La Moneta and Mercedes Ruiz produced the main dance DVDs in this leap year, and the latter made the most of the teaching aspect.
Dance was also represented by the documentary filmed at the legendary Amor de Dios under the direction of Vicente Pérez Herrero and titled “Flamenco de Raíz”.
Guitar was the best-represented discipline in video publications in 2012. As the year before, it was David Leiva who published the greatest amount of material in the didactic vein. This man from Almería can be considered one of the important sources, the same as Paco Serrano, a teacher at the Superior de Córdoba, who this year brought out his “Manuel de Guitarra”.
To wind up, we must take note of the documentary “La Sombra de las Cuerdas” and the concert its central figure “Niño Miguel” offered in Seville in 2011. All included with the video “Huelva Flamenca”, material for the true flamenco-lover.
They assured us 2012 would be the end of the economic crisis forever after. In the end, nothing could be further from the truth. Just a smokescreen, while many artists live on the edge in waiting mode, or directly out of the loop, but even so, alive and kicking, and looking forward to better times.