Lámpara Minera Vol. 3
A DIFFERENT APPROACH
Spain’s national broadcasting company RTVE and the Festival Internacional del Cante de las Minas de La Unión joined forces to publish this third volume of a series devoted to winners of the famous Lámpara Minera.
Juan Pinilla Martín from Huétor Tájar, 1981, won the coveted prize in 2007 after various attempts. In previous years he’d won lesser prizes for his cartageneras, murcianas, malagueña and jabera, levantica and second prize for mineras; in other words, he’s not the type who cultivates one certain cante in order to make off with the Lámpara. In fact, this is a young man with genuine love for the art, and the desire, not only to learn, but to teach as well, and his background is full “cante teacher” and “master class” in such far-flung places as Germany, Japan, Poland and of course, his own province of Granada. He is currently teaching at the cante school of the Instituto Andaluz de la Juventud. So it’s no surprise to find a subtly didactic intent on this recording with cantes titled “Granaína, estilo de Tía Marina Habichuela” and “Temporeras de Montefrío”.
The recording opens with a bulería song in minor key, a compás Pinilla seldom dips into, but where he defends himself acceptably, and the sweetness of his voice evokes times past. A delicate interpretation of mariana, a cante similar in rhythm to tangos and nearly obsolete, reminds us of the admiration this singer feels for Bernardo el de los Lobitos who recorded marianas on the Ducretet-Thompson/Hispavox anthology more than a half century ago.
The murciana is a live recording from La Unión of Pinilla’s version of this cante that earned him the prize four times. In cantiñas, once again it’s the sweetly delicate delivery, so apt for these cantes, that leaves us with the proverbial honey on the lips, and never was the saying so appropriate. A bit of recited poetry by the colorful and much-loved Curro Albayzín is the preface to the above-mentioned granaína and a set of folkloric cante abandolao continues to set the ambience with verses of Frasquito Yerbagüena and other less common delights in three-quarter time.
Like the murciana, the minera is the live winning performance from that August night in 2007 when Pinilla’s name was added to the long list begun in 1961 of people who have mastered this cante, nearly forgotten were it not for the Festival de La Unión.
The “Tangos Paraos del Camino” with the collaboration of veteran María ‘La Coneja’, recreates popular songs accompanied in the typical guitar position ‘por arriba’, and the solemn march-like compás that always reminds us of Granada. The temporeras with background by “native song-birds”, puts us even more deeply into this under-appreciated flamenco territory, and the experience is discreetly rounded out with soleá “Al Aire de Graná” which turns out to be from Triana but with verses that refer to Granada.
Special mention for Luis Mariano, the singer’s regular accompanist, also from Granada. He doubles himself effectively for a rich sound, while providing accompaniment that never overshadows Pinilla’s delicate singing.
With the guarantee of the important La Unión prize, Juan Pinilla has taken the liberty of presenting his own particular concept of cante, without an eye to fashion or commercial pressure. A sincere piece of work, done with utmost care, a different approach to communicate the same emotion others express with rough voices and heart-rending siguiriyas laments. Close-minded flamenco fans should abstain.
Juan Pinilla with Encarcación Fernández
Juan Pinilla in DeFlamenco.com