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Antonio Reyes / Mercedes Ruíz - Festival de Jerez - Review

Antonio Reyes "Directo en el Círculo Flamenco de Madrid"
Mercedes Ruiz "Déjame que te baile"
Monday, February 29th, 2016. Jerez de la Frontera
March 5, 2016
Text: Estela Zatania
Photos: Ana Palma

Special 20th Festival de Jerez - All the information

Classic flamenco as seen through youthful eyes



Bodega González Byass, 7:00pm

Young singer Antonio Reyes has been building his career for years, with dignity and perseverance, collecting some important prizes and honors along the way.  Some flamenco fans would have preferred he had a more spectacular style, but this is not the way of the man from  Chiclana.  His path is another, a style of singing that finds his own personal truth with a gently worn voice, richly shaded within his own serenity, in the great tradition of some of the older singers.  The histrionic delivery became popular beginning around the nineteen-seventies: it's impossible not to recall the famous words of singer Manolo Caracol: "flamenco singing isn't for the deaf".  Antonio Reyes' singing is sweetness that hurts good;  we're living in an era when the flamenco objective is reached and understood without the "primal scream" effect so popular during the peak of the open-air summer festivals.

As the title states, "Live at the Círculo Flamenco de Madrid", the recital is based on a direct recording made at this venue.  Reyes lays out a classic repertoire - soleá, assorted cantiñas, slow pop tangos, siguiriyas ("Santiago y Santana" with exquisite sensitivity), bulerías and fandangos - with a haunting voice that feels like times past, in the most positive sense.

Diego del Morao
, idol number one of young guitarists, put the guitar accompaniment.  His talent is such, that he has a variety of registers, from classic to ultra-modern.  Last night, he went modern, which was not always the best backdrop for Antonio Reyes' singing, although Antonio adapted and reveled in the luxury of being accompanied by the son of the great Moraíto.  He was backed-up with the rhythm of Diego Montoya, Tate Núñez and Chícharo.

Antonio Reyes & Diego del Morao - Festival de Jerez

Photo gallery by Ana Palma - Video

Teatro Villamarta, 9:00pm

Dance: Mercedes Ruiz. Guest artists: David Palomar, Jesús Méndez. Guitar: Santiago Lara. Special collaboration: Paco Cepero. Percussion: Perico Navarro. Palmas: Javier Peña, Manuel Salado.

For those of my generation, it's sometimes hard to assimilate the concept of a "work".  Last night, at the Villamarta theater, Jerez dancer, Mercedes Ruiz, offered "Déjame que te Baile" ('let me dance for you'), an absolutely descriptive title for the performance.  Because she did just that.  Dance.  Alone.  A series of her own choreographies with the singing of David Palomar and Jesús Méndez.  It might have looked more fleshed out on a smaller stage.

Mercedes is known for her expressive arms, sweet femeninity and subtlety.  It's the Seville school of quiet elegance, with shawl, castanets, bata de cola and perfect placement.

Palomar gave just the right touch for milonga and garrotín, and some bulerías chuflas that inevitably made us think of dear Mariana Cornejo.  Guitarist Santiago Lara played siguiriyas at a clip with the big voice of Jesús Méndez who sang martinete and also soleá.  Mercedes, in trousers and short jacket, with her diminutive figure and arms pulled in tight, evoked Carmen Amaya.

Perhaps it was the presence of the much-admired veteran guitarist and composer, Paco Cepero, who elevated the presentation to the status of a "work".  On the program he figures as "special collaboration", and never were the words more accurate.  Seeing and hearing Cepero accompanying flamenco song and dance at the Villamarta, is not something you see every day, and the maestro appeared to be enjoying every moment.

Mercedes Ruíz Dejáme que te baile - Festival de Jerez

Photo gallery by Ana Palma - Video