Paco de Lucía «Cositas Buenas»
Text : Marcos Escánez Carrillo
Straight-ahead flamenco from Paco de Lucía
It finally arrived, by express delivery: the legend. The much-awaited record that stirred so much expectation, that had guitarists young and old sitting on tenterhooks. Because in the great gringo tradition the promotional strategy managed to turn all eyes towards this new work complete with video-clip, the media tripped over themselves to get an interview with the maestro and there was no shortage of romantic gossip in the ladies’ magazines.
And what we construe from it all, including his own declarations, is that Paco de Lucía has truly reached the artistic maturity he longed for. Not the one he has always had, but the one he was looking for.
When a musician refocuses on the personal necessity of liking oneself, regardless of what others may think, he is leaving behind the creative suffering this particular maestro has so often spoken about. And although we all know Paco was always moving in a different dimension, I think this moment in his career pertains to an orbit that is closer to home, more human, more intimate. When I set out to write this article, I began by trying to think of a title that would define the record. I gave up at the precise moment the term “intimist” came into mind. I was afraid it would be misinterpreted in the strict sense I meant to use it.
We all know Paco was always moving in a different dimension
“Cositas buenas” is a flamenco record, but not only of guitar. Just when we thought the guitar deity would give another turn of the screw, he surprised us with a record that expresses his concept of flamenco without pushing virtuosity. An unflashy style, very flamenco, impeccable and with extraordinary harmonic richness, but minus the flash. Some guitarists have confessed to a certain disappointment at first, but this withered away with subsequent hearings as they began to discover the ‘cositas buenas’ (good little things) that de Lucia offers. They identify with his resolutions, the amazing musicality, the accompaniment of the cante.
There are plenty of cositas buenas on this record, and the best are not necessarily guitar-centered, but in the flamenco forms of this musician. In that sense, Paco is still moving in a different dimension. I don’t think any other guitarist can pull off a recording of flamenco singing so naturally. It was Saramago who once wrote that there is no such thing as absolute triumph because it always goes hand in hand with failure. In order to triumph one must sacrifice other things. Over the course of time the balance of a lifetime will tell us if our choices were wise.
Photo by Rafa Manjavacas
Being a genius, Paco is toting up the balance in this recording of flamenco and cante as opposed to just guitar, giving us his intimate concept of cante and the flamenco sound. That’s the true flash in this work. And somehow, he reopens Pandora’s box regarding the avant-garde tendencies of recent years, bringing things back into focus. What he now brings is the essence of flamenco, his flamenco, although in order to do so he’s borrowed bits and pieces from Tomatito for the closing of the bulerías.
And the best place to appreciate all of this is in the soleá por bulerías which can only be described as the indefinition of ‘duende’. Surprising in concept, development, cadences, tempo… It’s also surprising no one broke the guitar over the singer’s head (if the maestro reads this I hope he sees the wink that goes along with it). If there had been another voice, I wonder if it wouldn’t have taken strength from the final result.
Another strong point is the choruses with catchy but complex tunes. They appear as the backbone of each piece, like a balancing act defying dizzying heights, never approaching saccharine sweetness, always meshed with a flamenco line of development, they are part and parcel of Paco’s intimate flamenco.
The maestro has spoken. Splendidly, with exquisite taste and from the vantage point of his own truth. Let us assimilate his teaching.
Paco de Lucía: a nostalgic perspective
PACO DE LUCÍA – Interview (video) & video-clip 'Cositas buenas'
Paco de Lucía – Show Review Festival de Jazz de Madrid
Paco de Lucía – Show Review Bienal de Sevilla