Thursday, August 7th, 2008. 2230h. Baluarte de la Candelaria, Cádiz
Cante: Manuel Moneo, Segundo Falcón, Paco del Pozo. Guitar: Juan Moneo, Antonio Carrión, Paco Jarana. Dance: Rafael del Carmen and company.
“¡¡El Cante por excelencia!!”
Texto y fotos: Estela Zatania
The series of seven shows that makes up the program of Jueves Flamencos at the Baluarte de la Candelaria in Cádiz, is actually the Cádiz flamenco festival, although it’s not known as such, and is comparable to any other flamenco festival we normally attend. The only difference is that it’s not celebrated on consecutive days, but rather one day per week, which affords the best pretext to regularly visit the lovely city and enjoy copious amounts of fried fish and the famous local wine while enjoying some of the best artists of the current scene.
The custom is to open with a “young hopeful”. At 33, winner of the prestigious Lámpara Minera, and having made his first commercial recording in 1986 (that’s right, at the age of eleven), more than a young hopeful, Madrid singer Paco del Pozo is a permanent child prodigy. If Madrid flamenco fans know him well, without quite putting him at the top, in Andalusia he’s practically unknown, so he came to Cádiz to show what he’s capable of. His presence on the stage of the Baluarte felt rather like a coming-out party in the presence of demanding and knowledgeable flamenco followers known for intransigence. With the always excellent accompaniment of his regular guitarist Antonio Carrión, he opened with malagueña, not of Mellizo, but of Gayarrito, ending with the fandango of Frasquito, followed by tientos tangos with styles from Extremadura, and soleá with classic cantes of Alcalá, Lebrija and Utrera. Alegrías, also in the classic line, but with personal touches, and bulerías with a nod to Bambino.
Rafael del Carmen is an experienced dancer we’ve seen over the years, most notably with the Manuela Carrasco company. He has astonishing footwork, a very high overall technical level and original moves. But an excess of energy and the urge to “sell” get in the way, and he doesn’t manage to get it all together into an enjoyable product. In Peking he’d easily win several gold medals in the specialty of flamenco acrobatics, but in Cádiz the audience wasn’t buying it despite the best efforts of guitarist Román Vicenti and singer Manuel Tañé.
Segundo Falcón of Viso del Alcor (Seville) is a solid singer, best-known perhaps for his work with Eva Yerbabuena, Andrés Marín and others, but always a good bet on his own as well. His clean sweet voice delivers a placid sort of flamenco characteristic of singers from the interior, without the aggressive element found in singers from Jerez. A malagueña of Chacón is ended with the cante of Concha la Peñaranda to abandolao compás. He does a fine job with alegrías and cantiñas, cantes for which his voice is well-suited, then siguiriyas where he finds the road to duende without pyrotechnics or shirt-ripping, and with a feel of times past. Respectable bulerías, fandangos including those of Gloria, Alosno and the much-missed Toronjo. Paco Jarana, whose wife Yerbabuena is in the front row, does a fine job accompanying.
The star of the evening is that old lion Manuel Moneo, a singer who lives unfairly in the shadow of his cult figure brother Torta. This is a great singer in the line of Antonio Mairena, but with his own well-defined personality…if a bit short on modesty: “I got here nice and early, but like always, they put me last…I’m one of the few real singers left”. Ok Manuel, you’re right and you’ve paid your dues. With soleá, he is weighty and substantial with a few good moments. In siguiriya, with styles of his native Jerez, he is nothing short of sensational, and the audience shouts out words of encouragement and approval: “Manuel, you’re one of the last ones left, all the rest are fakes!” With fandangos he doesn’t quite raise the gooseflesh, and his bulerías is surprisingly unexciting on this occasion, despite a strong family backup, but the siguiriya made the whole trip worthwhile.