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El Torta & Diego del Morao - Flamenco Viene del Sur

March 29, 2012

El Torta y Diego del Morao.
Flamenco Viene del Sur
Tuesday, March 27th, 2012. Teatro Central Sevilla.

Text: Gonzalo Montaño Peña.
Photos: India Roper-Evans.

Cante: Juan Moneo “El Torta”; Guitar: Diego del Morao; Percussion: Ané Carrasco; Palmas: Chícharo and Gregorio

Juan Moneo “El Torta” came to Seville generating the kind of expectation only unpredictable personalities create, people whose ability to perform depends on their mood and health at any given moment, while everyone knows it can all fall apart in the blink of an eye.  Recent recitals had been disappointing…notably at the Festival de Jerez where he just didn’t get it together.  Nevertheless, on this night, had he been a bullfighter, he’d have walked away from the Teatro Central with two ears, the traditional honor.

Diego del Morao opened on his own with bulerías, honoring his father and his entire dynasty with cherished musical variations that have become part of the Jerez flamenco corpus, accompanied by the percussion of Ané Carrasco.

Torta came on to launch, almost haphazardly, a couple of tonás, and the first shouts of “ole!” came from the audience who were already sold on this man even before they left home, since years before in fact, and would actually settle for any little crumb Torta was willing to offer.  This was followed by alegrías done by the book, and then soleá with some excellent moments that showed what this man is capable of.

Then he got warmed up for siguiriyas with the savage ways of a person crying out with no regard for convention or aesthetics.  Behind that primitive delivery hides the knowledge of a wise singer.  When you listen to him, it seems this interpreter has been there done that, and knows everything that’s going to happen before the actual moment…maybe that’s why he doesn’t even wait for the guitar to start playing, but jumps in with his characteristic anarchy and impatience, with the anxiety of a person about to unleash a primal scream.  He ended with a cabal which delighted all those present and even some outside the theater.  The man was just getting warmed up.

Then he sought out his genetic memory to interpret an anthological series of fandangos in the style of his neighborhood.  Wild and strong like Paco Toronjo, gypsy as if Manuel Torre himself were singing into his ear prompting him.

Once again with each turn of the melody, the guitar of Diego del Morao took us down Marqués de Cádiz street and up the Calle Nueva to stop for a moment at the peña los Juncales, accompanied by the special swing of the palmas of Chicharo and Gregorio.

Torta returned to close out with bulerías, his best moment.  He gave some samples of his greatness, but it was tempting to wonder what would have happened had he left the soleá or siguiriya for this part of the show when the sleeping lion had awakened.

The audience couldn’t believe it was over, and refused to leave until Juan gave some more of his stuff – in this case a verse about “let’s head for Jerez, it’s getting late”.