XLV Gazpacho Andaluz
Text and photos: Estela Zatania
Cante: Mayte Martín, Tomasa la Macanita, Cancanilla de Marbella, Manuela Cordero. Concert guitar: José Antonio Santos. Dance: Cuadro flamenco of Juana Amaya, Mercedes de Morón and her group.
RECIPE FOR GAZPACHO: PLENTY OF DEDICATION AND AN OPEN MIND
Life is full of clichés. Morón de la Frontera, city of whitewash, home of the plucked hen, of Diego del Gastor and of a kind of festival many consider a cliché in its form and content, the little clay bowls that are distributed and flamenco artists who limit themselves to singing and dancing with guitar. “And yet it moves”, because even at twenty euros a ticket and in full recession times, in the spacious patio of the Colegio Salesianos you could barely find an empty plastic chair. This type of festival exists, quite simply, because flamenco followers want it to.
And even with that crowd of 1,200 spectators, the atmosphere was much warmer than the impersonal open space of the bullring which for several years hosted the venerable Gazpacho Andaluz, now in its forty-fifth edition. In this corner of the flamenco geography, guitar has a place of honor, and the Gazpacho always begins with a guitar solo, on this occasion, by young José Antonio Santos from the Taller de Guitarra of the Fundación Fernando Villalón, who played, more than soleá or bulerías, Diego del Gastor, the town’s main artistic celebrity who, even four decades after his death, continues to define Morón flamenco for many people.
Manuela Cordero from Rota, the first voice of the evening, has come a long way in very few years thanks to her authentic delivery, abundant knowledge always administered with good taste and her outsized devotion to flamenco. With the guaranty of Antonio Carrión on guitar, she interpreted alegrías and soleá with surprising maturity, and a good assortment of bulerías, mixing short forms and traditional songs. Cordero is one of the most promising young people of the current flamenco scene.
Master of ceremonies Manuel Bohórquez presented Tomasa la Macanita recalling her appearance at the age of five that melted our hearts in the series Rito y Geografía del Cante. Now in glorious middle-age, hers is the most representative and admired female voice from Jerez. The youngest of the old guard, more artful than artsy, she let her good instincts guide her through tientos tangos, soleá and bulerías with the compás of Gregorio, Chícharo and Macano, and the guitar of Fernando Moreno.
If Morón is a guitar town, it’s also a dance town, boasting an impressive number of stars throughout its history. On Saturday night, two dance groups rounded out the program. Mercedes de Morón, with her husband Agustín de la Chica on guitar, and the voices of Enrique de Morón and Rubio de Pruna, the latter especially noteworthy, closed the first part.
After we all downed some refreshing gazpacho, Cancanilla de Málaga, or de Marbella, depending on what day you catch him, opened the second part with his faithful companion Antonio Moya, another top guitarist whose winks and nods to Diego del Gastor are always present. Cancanilla was not touched by the powerful influence of Camarón, his cante is straightahead Mairena, his voice strong and flamenco and his knowledge of soleá and siguiriya is correspondingly great. Ending with bulerías, this singer who started out as a dancer delighted the audience with his light-hearted dancing.
Our emcee Bohórquez commented what a shame that singer Mayte Martín is not programmed at flamenco festivals in Andalusia. I myself have seen the controversy that can arise when Mayte sings in certain areas. She’s Catalonian and non-gypsy, and sadly, that combination of circumstances surpasses the limits of some people’s ability to appreciate flamenco. Throughout the day, several people had expressed their fear that Mayte would not be well-received at the Gazpacho. But in Morón, the mountains are nearby, and there is the taste for a sort of cante that is far from the clichés of gypsies with rugged voices. The singer’s performance, intense, discreet and well-measured, with all the aplomb and dignity that characterize her, was of a high level. With granaína, she demonstrated there are many ways to raise goose-bumps, and hers is exquisite. With Juan Ramón Caro on guitar, another maestro, she sang malagueña of Peñaranda and Chacón, closing with rondeña and Frasquito; the dimension of Mayte Martín’s knowledge is very welcome.
No obvious virtuosity or dramatic endings, but the audience, enthralled, gave a standing ovation for this Catalonian non-gypsy. The fandangos de Huelva were another gift for the senses, with an almost nostalgic assortment of styles…Santa Eulalia, Calañas, etc….with the “novelty” of classic verses we all know and love. It’s fine and well to renew the poetry of cante, but let’s not reject the rich existing body of traditional verse. She announced cantiñas to end, but opted instead for bulerías. Juan Ramón Caro served up an easy-going tempo, and the crystallized honey voice of Mayte finished seducing all those present with well-chosen classic songs. At this point, the audience begged for an encore for the first time this evening, but the lady retired to the wings as discreetly as she had arrived.
Juana Amaya. Currently the biggest box-office draw from Morón, if those words can indeed be applied to the art of flamenco. A first-class group, Juana’s daughter Nazaret Reyes opened with siguiriyas, a force of nature almost as powerful as her mother. Paco Fernández on guitar…what a string of first-class guitarists for the Gazpacho…and the singing of Quini, Moi de Morón and again the interesting young singer Rubio de Pruna. Juana’s soleá had more fury than ever, she’s a great dancer in a line that few follow any more. A fiesta ending, and everything got wrapped up at half past three.