Text and photos: Estela Zatania
Five days of art, rhythm and the occasional surprise
On Friday August 30th, the last “Viernes Flamenco” of this year’s series took place in Jerez de la Frontera. For five consecutive weeks, the historic walls of the San Fernando patio of the ancient fortress vibrated with singing, dance and guitar.
The series got underways on August 2nd with Mateo Soleá, a singer who is no superstar but can always be counted upon to deliver his cante with maximum dignity and knowledge. He was accompanied on guitar by Paco Lara who also played for Juan “el Torta”, the main star of the night, who gave a somewhat superficial performance that disappointed some, but delighted his hardcore fans.
Dance was supplied by Raúl Ortega with the voices of Sara Salado, Agustín Mancheño and Selu del Puerto. The first two dances were of little interest, but suddenly the young man found his particular thread with alegrías, left aside all the foot-pounding and entered into a flamenco space with an inspired combination of gentle irony and his very original personality.
The following Friday, August 9th, singer José Cortés “Canela” junior, opened with a formal series of classic cante in the Mairena line, with Miguel Salado on guitar. Jerez dancer Carmen Herrera was the dance attraction before the star of the evening, veteran Extremadura singer Antonio Suárez “Guadiana”.
On August 16th, with the heat so intense even at night that hundreds of people were fanning themselves at ten P.M., singer José Méndez, with Fernando Moreno on guitar, offered an admirable mini recital before getting the audience whipped up with his bulerías. Dancer Ana Morales, winner of the Desplante prize of La Unión in 2009, interpreted the taranto that helped her be worthy of that honor, in addition to alegrías with the voice of Londro and the guitar of Jesús Guerrero. The much-admired singer Luis Zambo, again with Fernando Moreno, was in charge of closing the night with his classic Jerez cante.
The next to last Friday in August, the night began with José de los Camarones in top form, with his warmly rough singing that was a pleasant surprise for those of the audience who had come from out-of-town and never seen the singer before. He was accompanied on guitar by Domingo Rubichi. Dancer Soraya Clavijo, winner of the 2004 Córdoba prize, danced por soleá with the tranquil elegant style that is her trademark, accompanied by the voices of veteran Curro Fernández and Juanillorro, with Román Vicenti on guitar. Joaquín Jiménez “Salmonete”, the singer who years ago was a young hopeful, continues to be hopeful if no longer young. With some nervousness in his voice, it wasn’t his best performance, nor was it his worst, and the appreciative audience was on his side from the start.
The Viernes Flamencos came to an end on August 30th with another set of artists, and the presence in the audience of the maestro Paco Cepero. Singer José “el Mijita” accompanied by Miguel Salado, had to struggle to get the audience’s interest, but in the end his bulerías, with the powerful feel of his San Miguel neighborhood, elegant little dance included, finally melted the ice. Claudiz Cruz was the dancer of the evening with the excellent back-up of singers Miguel Rosendo and Emilio Florido, and the guitar of Román Vicenti.
The strong flamenco voice of David Lagos, with Pepe del Morao on guitar, put the final cantes of the Viernes. After opening with tonás, he had some very original touches in alegrías, demonstrating how enriching it is to sing for dance, something Lagos has done for many years. Soleá por bulería, siguiriyas, bulerías, fiesta finale and it was all over until next year.