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José Manuel Gamboa / Oscar Herrero

José Manuel Gamboa, lecture: "Historias de Nueva York" - Oscar Herrero, concert guitar, "Sábicas / Esteban de Sanlúcar"
June 18, 2013
Text: Pablo San Nicasio
Photos & videos: Rafael Manjavacas

Spain doesn’t tend to do right by its most honored citizens.  And in flamenco this is even more noticeable.

But we have people qualified to highlight this outrage.  Artists who lovingly inform us of what we had and have, and take for granted.

Last night José Manuel Gamboa and Óscar Herrero shared the task of presenting flamenco as a highly valued cultural element in the Americas.  An important symbol of Spanish identity, not simply a wineskin, or an envelope with some coins.

GamboaWith the title “Historias de Nueva York”, first via the spoken word, and then with music, the legacy of American flamenco was meticulously described, with special attention to the Big Apple.  José Manuel Gamboa will soon present a book he previewed last night.  With his personal way of speaking, and for one hour, he opened the eyes of all those present in the Paco Rabal theater.  Anecdotes and quips aside, the profound importance of flamenco in New York became clear.  From guitarist Trinidad Huerta, around 1824, right up to the most admired current stars…they all made the obligatory stop on the shores of the Hudson River.

Flamenco as a profitable way of life in a land that received “Carmencita” and Rojo el Alpargatero with open arms, and where this artform was immortalized before anywhere else and the music was even used for religious ends.

The Hollywood connection with flamenco, the wisdom of local critics and the achievements of Argentinita and Vicente Escudero, Carmen Amaya and Antonio, of Sabicas and Mario Escudero.  An interesting monologue that needs to be publicized.  These things are fuel for the soul.

So many artists passed through and interacted, that a sort of New York concept of flamenco choreography came into being, not to mention concert flamenco guitar.

A kind of guitar-playing that the maestro Óscar Herrero deftly laid out with great artistry.

Óscar just published “1912”, a recording in honor of two of our guitar greats who had to emigrate across the Atlantic.  And the superb recital centered on the work of these figures, Sabicas and Esteban de Sanlúcar, not without first playing his work “Abantos”, a taranta-bulería solo that anyone would love to have just in their head, if not their fingers.

Oscar HerreroThe man of la Mancha is full of inspiration, and he’s managed to recycle for our times a good bunch of pieces which at this rate would have gradually been lost.

Flamenco is in no position to underestimate that heritage, nor guitarists like Óscar.  A master of shading and phrasing, with such powerful technique you feel glued to your seat.

Exquisite in guajira and campanilleros, wonderful musicality in the alegrías titled “Ole mi Cádiz”, and the level remained high for the pieces of Esteban de Sanlúcar that followed.

Esteban Delgado Bernal, overlooked and underestimated, mainly of interest because of his exotic quality, a composer for guitar on the same level of the great academics of his time.  And this became clear as we listened to “Castillo de Xauén”, “Mantilla de Feria” and those Panaderos that are now used almost exclusively to quickly climb to the top.  An encore of “Carmen”, and very interesting sevillanas for anyone with eyes and ears.  There are people who say this isn’t flamenco.

Óscar Herrero once again put everything on the line, we need more like him.  And again, we take things for granted…will we ever learn?

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