Pablo San Nicasio
Guitar: Amós Lora. Second guitar: Johnny Jiménez. Percussion: Antonio Losada. Voice and Palmas: Cristo Heredia, Antonio Villar and Rafael Jiménez. Dance: “El Carpeta”
Right off the bat, it’s just dumb to call this kind of person a prodigy. These are people blessed by the gods of art. Geniuses in the most ample sense of the word. Because what most stood out on Saturday night in Ciudad Rodrigo was, above all else, creative freedom, and at twelve or fourteen years of age, no matter how hard we force the issue, this cannot simply be the result of hard work. There has to be something else going on here.
Ciudad Rodrigo isn’t exactly a hotbed of flamenco. Who’s kidding who. The old ruin of Miróbriga is more of a medieval oasis where the stones have not suffered the passage of time, and you can walk through the streets transported to the second millennium without the images being particularly different from what they are now.
A singular place of unmatched beauty and long tradition, especially in cuisine and bullfighting, where last Saturday “Cerro Negro” was (again) presented. The first work of Amós Lora who, only twenty-four hours earlier, bowled over flamenco fans in the capital of Tormes.
The Teatro Nuevo of Ciudad Rodrigo filled up for the event. Especially young people with a love for flamenco who didn’t always respect the silence required to appreciate guitar-playing. And it was really needed, because during the sound-check the technicians didn’t realize what would later happen. Both the guitar of Amós, and of the ineffable Johnny Jiménez, were barely distinguishable from the chorus of voices and percussion.
A crying shame. It was the only blemish on a night that may come to be remembered as historic, only time will tell. Two geniuses of flamenco guitar and dance, almost the same age, raised everyone’s morale, and the sweet smell of future success seemed near.
Amós Lora is not your run-of-the-mill prodigy. It’s woefully inadequate, almost offensive to talk about this person in such terms. His music lucidity and first-class technique pit him face to face with our greatest idols. And it’s no exaggeration. And hold the dismissive attitude because there’s plenty of science and strictly musical analysis involved.
From the opening minera, up to his encore of bulerías and hour and a half later, he didn’t sound like anyone else on guitar. What do you think about that? I tell it like it is. Even the bulerías falseta he borrowed from Diego del Morao, or Paco de Lucía’s own Zyryab had a distinct personality. That, and the fact that “Cerro Negro” is his composing debut, lest we forget.
Guitarist with a repertoire of alegrías, rondeña, bulerías, soleá…for dance accompaniment, and for cante (exquisite for the taranta) and above all solo.
At no point making it into a circus, just expression and coherence. He truly arm-wrestles with the instrument. Divine picado, as clean as any of the greats, and astonishing expressiveness, the ability to improvise and harmonize. What can I say, if you think I’m kidding, go see him and let yourself go. Someone will no doubt want to make a fool of himself and find things to criticize in this boy. Idiots abound. When Amós grows up, physically, I just hope any jerks that happen to be around will have found a place to hide.
And Carpeta. A young gentleman with a fine look who makes you wonder about the limits of growth and the neuronal and muscular development of humans. Two interpretations, bulerías and then alegrías. The genetic transmission of the Montoyas in full swing and better than ever.
Best of all is they take themselves seriously. Their youthful forms are quickly overlooked. Ciudad Rodrigo felt guitar-playing and dancing of the greats, no kids’ games here. And they managed to avoid any ill-intentioned scrutiny. In other words: superb.
Only two things can be asked for these blessed children. Lots of good fortune (that will depend on flamenco fans) and above all else, may they be left to live in peace for many years.