Since 1964 when he made his first solo record Paco de Lucia has been if not the foremost flamenco player in Spain, certainly an immensely popular musician of great skill and influence. He has been called the God of the guitar and of the little that I have heard of his music, there is a majestic confidence and miraculous fluidity to his playing. He also looks impressive and is clearly a charismatic and dynamic performer, his long fingers covering the strings like quick silver, the music sometimes unbelievably fast.
He is seen as the founder of the new modern flamenco style which moves out of but, he insists, is never far beyond the traditional form of flamenco with rhythm, song and dance. de Lucia shrugs off the concerns that he might lose his roots or betray the essence of flamenco. “I have never lost my roots in my music, because I would lose myself,” he once said. “What I have tried to do is have a hand holding onto tradition and the other scratching, digging in other places trying to find new things I can bring into flamenco.
There was a time when I was concerned about losing myself,” he added, “but not now. I’ve realised that, even if I wanted, I couldn’t do anything else. I am a flamenco guitarist. If I tried to play anything else it would still sound like flamenco.”
Early in his career, in 1968, he met Camaron de la Isla, one of the premier flamenco singers. They made more than 10 records. Their album Potro de Rabia y Miel (1991), the first by them since 1984, was probably the last release by Camaron de la Isla, who died in 1992. Together they made a huge contribution to the new music of Spain.
Flamenco is by definition, a dialogue between individual but inter-related musicians. de Lucia has travelled widely and in doing so has been a member of several groups whose variety of instruments may have offended the flamenco purists.
His own sextet in the 1980’s, included bass, drums, and saxophone and he collaborated, especially with jazz musicians, most notably with pianist Chick Corea and fellow guitarist John McLaughlin, Larry Coryell and Al DiMeola. The often dazzling results of these collaborations have been documented in several releases including the guitar trio albums Castro Marin (1979). He has toured with the Jose Greco company, written music for the theatre, ballet and cinema, pushing the boundaries of his art to new limits, but never far beyond its original inspiration.
Regular readers of these postings will recognise that I have little knowledge of Paco de Lucia other than I have picked up on the internet. There’s quite a lot to see, and several videos on U Tube (see below) and elsewhere to hear.
Clearly a great artist.