15 FESTIVAL FLAMENCO CIUTAT VELLA
Zuk – El Torta – Hiniesta Cortés – Rumba Amazigha
Barcelona is a city of many layers, tied together by a diverse ambience and constructed upon many different cultural essences. Yesterday at the CCCB we found many of these characteristics that make the city great. Music becomes that thick sauce that unites the different aesthetic ingredients hidden behindthe stone and asphalt of an ancient city: from the most cerebral experimentation, to the most traditional cante flamenco. There’s room for everything and it’s all there to enjoy in Barcelona.
As is the custom, the evening began and ended at the Hall of the CCCB with two shows that share the pleasure of mixing influences. The first was SUK, a group whose formula mixes Persian music with flamenco and electronic sounds, always from the experiimental perspective. In this sense, flamenco was not the main theme but rather one more expressive ingredient, and it was represented by singer Joaquín Gómez “Duende”. The members of the group come from World Music, and in a certain sense their work is reminiscent of Smash at the end of the sixties and beginning of the seventies, with oriental psychodelic elements which create dense, even unsettling sonic universes. Tradition, vanguard, orientalism. Those three words could define the interesting work this group has to offer, something you aren’t about to hear on the top 40, nor is there any need to.
And to close, also in the Hall, a new take on the rumba Catalana, but this time passing through Raval, the most culturally diverse neighborhood of Barcelona. That is where this group, that mixes rumba Catalana with Amazigha-Berber music comes from, and they aim to create, share, entertain and have a good time. Which is precisely what they did, livening up the night, inviting to dance and enjoying their own music. Rumba Amazigha is a audio cultural photograph of multiethnic Barcelona.
And amidst all the experimentation and multiculturality, flamenco came to the Pati de les Dones. At center-stage, Juan Moneo El Torta and Hiniesta Cortés. The Jerez singer opened, and he appeared more focused, less at odds with himself and the world, which allowed him to express himself more and better, for which we are infinitely grateful, because there are those who believe that to speak less than glowingly of Torta is nothing less than a sign of dark Judeo-Masonic conspiracies. On the contrary, we all know how to enjoy something which is there to enjoy. Last night he was more toned down, less aggressive, more together, to the extent that Torta can approach normalcy. He presented the standard repertoire of martinete, alegrías, soleá, siguiriya, malagueña, tangos and bulería. The malagueñas and siguiriyas he was moving, always showing that intense internal existential struggle which he permanently suffers. Still, seeing Torta on stage is a poem. He doesn’t sit still for a second – coughing, clearing his throat, drinking, touching his beard, his hair, another drink, more coughing and throat-clearing… He appears to be suffering, when an artist, by definition, ought to enjoy offering his art to others. But each person is the way he or she is, and in the end all that matters is the worth of the cante. María José Franco, who hasn’t been seen in a long time, did some bulerías full of grace, sheer pleasure.
After intermission, dancer Hiniesta Cortés (that last name is getting quite a workout in this edition of the festival, what with Carmen, Montse and Hiniesta). Her style is somewhat out of place, this said with all due respects. She occupies the dangerous territory half-way between tablao and theater. Guajira, siguiriya and bulería por soleá, with the excellent backup of singers El Galli and El Moi, ¡ole!, and the wonderful guitars of Rafael Rodríguez and Miguel Pérez..