Text: Estela Zatania
Photos: Ana Palma
XXI FESTIVAL DE JEREZ
Antonio Agujetas, Juan Lara
Friday, March 3rd, 2017. 7:00pm. Palacio Villavicencio, Jerez de la Frontera
The Festival de Jerez is the most important flamenco and Spanish dance festival in the world, yet the organization maintains the admirable custom of setting aside time for singing as well. The series “Los Conciertos del Palacio” is the venue reserved for these acoustic recitals of veterans and newcomers.
Jerez is a flamenco city par excellence. And the flamenco is served in a variety of flavors, depending on the associated neighborhoods and families. Google says it’s just over a thousand yards from the church of Santiago to that of San Miguel, the two most representative parishes of Jerez flamenco. On this occasion, we had a shared recital from two singers linked via family ties, to the San Miguel neighborhood, known affectionately as the “plazuela”.
First it was the veteran’s turn. Antonio de los Santos Bermúdez, “Antonio Agujeta”, is the son of legendary singer Manuel Agujeta, who passed away two Christmases ago, and was, for decades, the person who most symbolized the “soníos negros”, or “black sounds” that flamenco fans of a certain type and age dream of. It makes no difference that experts have demonstrated that the earliest voices of flamenco were sweet and lyrical. The singing of the extended Agujeta family is always defined as “primitive” and “ancestral”, and the interpreters have never let anyone down in this respect.
Despite a delicate state of health, and very diminished faculties, Antonio continues to deliver song forms as received from his father and grandfather: malagueña of Mellizo and Chacón, soleá, short and without an ending, siguiriyas in which his rough vocal texture was quite fitting, and his voice started coming together. Free-form fandangos, and then disproving the myth that the Agujetas can’t manage bulerías, he sang bulerías de Cádiz and styles of the plazuela, withoug skipping a beat. The guitar of Antonio Soto from Málaga, was crisp and attentive at every moment.
Following this, young singer Juan Lara of the Pacotes, related to the Moneo family, also of San Miguel, with Manuel Jero on guitar, went on to sing styles of the plazuela. I’d known this singer as a saeta specialist (Holy Week music), but last summer he demonstrated his versatile repertoire at a performance in the Viernes Flamenco. With his clean clear sound, and the power of a youthful voice, he began with soleá por bulería, the form that most identifies the flamenco of this city. This was followed by a classic Jerez repertoire: siguiriyas, fandangos and of course bulerías to end.