Sunday, June 09, 2013

Paco de Lucía ~ legendary flamenco guitarist at Fes Festival

Paco de Lucía – Spain
The legendary flamenco guitarist

Antonio Sanchez - second guitar
Antonio Serrano - keyboards
Alain Perez - bass
Piranha - percussion
Duquende - voice
David de Jacoba - voice
Farruco – voice & dance

'In our house there was a big interior courtyard. When my father came home at night, he continued to play for fun with other musicians. Some big names passed through our courtyard, and I grew up in this ambience. Before I'd even put my hands on a guitar, I knew all about flamenco: its most complex rhythms and its language.' ~ Paco de Lucía

Paco de Lucía is one of the great living legends of flamenco, and one of the greatest guitarists in the world. Possessing the very soul of flamenco, imbued with the quest for passion and freedom, he gives the art a universal dimension.

He is deeply dedicated to the most sublime expression of cante jondo in the style of his former mentor, Camaron da Isla. He also transforms flamenco guitar by bringing it closer to jazz, thanks to his work with some of the greatest guitarists of the world such as Larry Corel, John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola, and with the pianist and composer Chick Corea.

From his first album Fantasia flamenca (1969) up to his recordings of various works by Spanish composer Manuel de Falla, his interpretation of Joaquin Rodrigo's Concerto d'Aranjuez, his famous rumba Entre dos aguas, his album Ziryab - in all of these works, Paco de Lucía takes flamenco to new heights.

Paco de Lucía was a remarkable guitarist from the age of 5, thanks to the influence of his father and his brothers Ramón de Algesiras and Pepe de Lucía who are respectively guitarist and flamenco singer. Born in Andalusia, his childhood was marked by the worst years of Franco.

Because of these roots, the great guitarist has always felt the original passion of duende, an incisive duende that he puts over in an exceptional manner by creating rapid notes as sharp as a blade. These original variations (falsetas), his predilection for more rhythmic styles into which he suffuses a dramatic power all his own, his mastery of syncopation and his original works in the grand style a compás (complex metre/harmonic cycles) are just some of the characteristics of this great guitarist.

Bab Al Makina - filled to capacity

Accompanied by the great singer Duquende and the impressive figure of the dancer Farucco, Paco de Lucía possesses that spirit of flamenco, embodying the quest for passion and freedom.

The Concert

It may have been Paco de Lucia’s first performance in Morocco tonight at Bab al Makina, but with the large Spanish contingent in the audience and a performance that converted the rest of the crowd in spectacular style, the musicians must have felt right at home.

Paco de Lucia first entered the stage alone and began a solo piece that showcased his skills as a legendary guitarist. Looking the part of the Spanish gypsy in a collarless white shirt with loose puffed sleeves that gave his arms the space they needed to move, he sat with his right ankle on his left knee, a suspended foot moving to the slow rhythm.

The lighting was blue and dappled like sunlight on an ocean floor as the audience got their first taste of the maestro. His wrist relaxed and his fingers dextrous, the movements were at times so fast that even on the large screen his hands became a blur of motion.

On the second number de Lucia was joined on stage by his musicians, whose rhythmic soft clapping (palmas) combined with the drums and taps on the body of the guitar to produce an infectious beat that had the crowd joining in.

The growing intensity was not only in the music but in de Lucia’s expression – eyes tightly closed, his head would jerk forward and his shoulders rise up as he squeezed the maximum amount of emotion from his instrument.


The passion was building as Juan Rafael Cortés Santiago, known as Duquende, broke into a throaty song, his arms jerking as if possessed by the music, at times looking like he wanted to explode from the constraints of his chair.

The crowd were already hooked by the close of the second song, with shouts of ‘Ole!’ as the dramatic notes subsided.

Antonio Sanchez

Then second guitarist Antonio Sanchez took to the stage and the next song began at a softer and mellower pace, their guitars sounding mournful and hauntingly beautiful like someone yearning for a lost love. The emotion was palpable and it was truly poignant.

Once again the music began to build to a crescendo and the full ensemble of musicians ably demonstrated their unity, complementing each other with enthusiasm and obvious pleasure. Their camaraderie added to the effect, drawing the audience in. This was no mean feat, as flamenco performances are normally much more intimate affairs, and to create the same connection with thousands of spectators was evidence of virtuoso performers.

There were more treats to come – a fast and furious harmonica solo, the musician blowing up a storm with lungs like bellows, the instrument squealing and sighing as he squeezed every tonality of sound possible from it.

A guitar duet between de Lucia and Sanchez was a delightful interplay, not only musically but affectionately – de Lucia’s benevolent glances and beaming smiles showed a master appreciating a devoted apprentice, or perhaps he was seeing a younger version of himself.

Then the baile (dance). The third singer stood and slowly walked to centre stage. He paused, gradually raised his arms into a triumphant ‘V’ and then flung himself into a brief but passionate display of pulse-racing footwork, drawing whoops and yells from the crowd.

The dancer was Antonio Fernández Montoya, known as “Farruco”. Dancing since the age of two and descended from the great Antonio Montoya Flores, Farruco showed that as well as an impressive lineage he definitely has compás - that impeccable sense of flamenco rhythm - flowing through his veins.

Paco de Lucia ended this number with a cry of ‘Viva Morocco’! to the delight of the audience.


The excitement continued as Farruco returned to centre stage after a costume change, his long hair loose and a black jacket that formed wings as he flew in sudden turns. The dance was like a slow courtship that became a tempestuous affair, with slow foot stamping, finger clicking and posturing that built to a crescendo of rapid footwork and finished with slaps of the thigh, beats to the chest and dramatic flourishes.

The women in the audience were quick to their feet with appreciative whistles and cat calls, that resulted in Farruco’s teasing removal of his jacket accompanied by a hip gyration and a cheeky grin that had some of the standing crowd go weak at the knees.

As a woman next to me commented “He could have anyone in the crowd right now, male or female!”

At this point de Lucia introduced all of the musicians without naming himself, prompting the audience to begin a spontaneous chant of “Paco, Paco, PACO!” which caused the maestro much laughter and evident pleasure.

The final numbers continued to demonstrate how transporting, exciting, energising and uplifting music at its best can be, while also being thought provoking and sorrowful.

As the musicians left the stage the audience leapt to their feet in an uproarious ovation that continued unabated until they returned for an encore. At this point the crowd had surged to the front of the stage, allowing for an up close experience for those who were lucky enough to get there.

The pleasure on the faces of the musicians was matched by the enthusiasm of the spectators and we all left with Spanish blood pumping in our veins and the soul of Andalusia in our hearts.

Audience reaction

“It reminded me of the music of northern Morocco and it was so wonderful, it was dream since I was 14 years old to be at a concert like this.
Younes Daoud, Tetouan, Morocco

I think it was an electrifying display of musical power. Paco de Lcuia only gets better with age.
Alejandro Ferrando, Spain

It was very moving and beautiful, very rich in colour and music, lots of emotion. A spiritual voyage – you get to know their story through the music. Also the connection between the musicians together, and their connection with the public was something special.”
Sarah, Lazar, Paris, France.

Coming up at the Fes Festival

Batha Museum
4 pm
Abeer Nehme - Aramean, Syriac and Byzantine Song - Lebanon
Abeer Nehme excels in the art of singing the religious repertoire of Maronite, Byzantine and Syriac origin.

Nights in the Medina - One

Dar Mokri
7.30 pm & 10 pm
The Lyannaj Bélé Ensemble of Martinique - France
A tribute to Aimé Césaire

Dar Adiyel
7.30 pm & 10 pm
Pandit Shyam Sundar Goswami - Northern India
Khyal Song

Batha Museum
8.30 pm
At the heart of the Sufi Nile - Egypt
A ceremony in a village in Upper Egypt
Sheikh Hamid Hossein Ahmad and Sheikh Ghanan from the village of Deir

 Dar Batha  
10 pm
Ykeda Duo - France Spain
Tamayo Ykeda and Patrick Zygmanowski
Piano concert presented by the French Institute in Fes

Festival in the City - Boujloud - 10.30 pm

Dj ClicK and the Hamadcha Sufi Brotherhood

Sufi Nights - Dar Tazi

Monday June the 10th: Tariqa Derkaouia (Azemmour)
A Sufi Brotherhood founded by Sharif Idrisi Moulay Larbi Derkaoui. He was born in 1760 in the Moroccan tribe Beni Bou Zerroual Brih. He was the disciple of the great mystic Moulay Ali Ben Abderrahman El Amrani said Jamal El Fasi who had his zawiya (lodge) in Fes, at a place called Hummat Er-Remula. The doctrine of Moulay Larbi Derkaoui proceeds from tarika Shadhiliyya jazouliya. He died in 1824 in his zawiya Bou Brih where he was buried.

The Weather - Monday will be a warm 26 degrees Celsius (78 Fahrenheit) during the day and down to 12C (53F) at night. The day and evening may have scattered cloud. Take something warm to the evening concert. Tuesday will be hot with 29 C (84 F) with night temperatures a couple of degrees warmer.

Fes Festival program
Fes Festival Medina Map
Fes Festival Food! 
Fes Festival Site

Text:  Vanessa Bonnin,  additional material, Sandy McCutcheon, 
Photos: Suzanna Clarke, Vanessa Bonnin

The View from Fez is an official media partner of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music

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1 comment:

Claude Le Roux said...

Paco is so amazing... I would have loved to be there.