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  • Writer's pictureYumi La Blanca

Appreciating forgotten names - Jazz Appreciation Month (3)

Jazz Appreciation Month still continues for us to cherish the richness and importance of jazz music. Taking this opportunity, I’d also like to bring up some names which we tend to overlook in the context of so-called flamenco jazz.

Thinking of ‘flamenco jazz’ as a style of Nuevo Flamenco, the first name coming to our mind is always Paco de Lucía. It’s not wrong, he’s widely regarded as the first person who paved the way for this music style, being influenced by real jazz musicians including Miles Davis. When treating him so, however, other important figures are often ignored or even remain unknown, that is, those who worked with him in the first ‘proper’ flamenco jazz project - they are Pedro Iturralde and Paco de Antequera.

Pedro Iturralde (1929 -2020)

Although the release of ‘Sketches of Spain’ by Miles Davis already happened in 1960 in New York, ‘Jazz Flamenco vols.1 y 2’ by Pedro Iturralde in 1968 is said to be the first ‘authentic’ flamenco jazz recordings by Spanish musicians. Possibly for a commercial reason, this project, led by Iturralde, is often tagged with the worldwide fame of Paco de Lucía, originally credited as Paco de Algeciras, as if the guitarist overshines the saxophonist in terms of name value.

The main reason why we, flamenco fans, tend to ignore his existence is probably because he was a saxophonist, and saxophone isn’t usually related to flamenco music. Graduated from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Madrid, Iturralde started experimenting in the combination of jazz and flamenco, and entertained the audience in jazz clubs in the city, proving the chemistry between these two music styles as well as the positive quality of saxophone for flamenco.

When thinking of the birth of flamenco jazz, this album still remains a milestone. Respecting the talent of Iterrude, who made this fusion possible, we will admire the flamenco-ness of his mellow-sounding saxophone as much as the familiar guitar sounds:

Bulerías (with Paco de Lucía = Paco de Algeciras)

Paco de Antequera (1938 - 2000)

Paco de Lucía wasn’t, however, the only guitarist who participated in this album. There was another Paco.

The guitarist from Antequera, Malaga, who established his professional career in tablaos from the ‘60s and even worked with the international star dancer Antonio Gades in New York, is hardly mentioned when we talk about flamenco jazz, despite the fact that his name is also credited in the same album. Even though he was another chosen one, along with the genius of Paco de Lucía, to play flamenco guitar for Iturralde, the usual presentation of this album pretends as if it’s an exclusive collaboration between Iturralde and de Lucía.

It’s kind of understandable that flamenco enthusiasts tend to ignore non-flamenco musicians, but the name of another Paco should be acknowledged more, as he was also a genuine flamenco guitarist who worked with renowned artists such as Manolo Caracol, Lola Flores, Beni de Cadíz and alike. In the album he played in two tracks as follows, while the other Paco did five:

Las Morrillas de Jaén (with Paco de Antequera)

Zorongo Gitano (with Paco de Antequera)

Paco from Antequera seems less known in flamenco jazz probably because he didn’t dig further in the jazzy route as much as Paco from Algeciras. Still, he’s surely one of the first and most important flamenco guitarists for the foundation of the fusion.

Of course, there are also other musicians who made this album possible, including the drummer, bassist, pianist and trombonist. When appreciating the music, we should also reminisce about individual artists who have created the soundscape, for their music is still alive.

Flamenco Jazz vols.1 y 2 (2015 remastered version)


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