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Setting the record straight
Teye | 04/24/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Paco de Lucia's name will stand as one of the innovators in flamenco guitar, along with other greats like Ramon Montoya and Sabicas, and being an innovator, he will be subject to adoration as well as to harsh criticism. When Ramon Montoya brought flamenco guitar to the stage front early in the last century, all traditionalists screamed: no, no, the guitar is for accompaniment only! When Paco de Lucia introduced new harmonies and new instruments into flamenco, purists were disgusted. Now, those then-new harmonies are accepted into the flamenco dictionary, and the cajón (a south American percussion instrument that Paco brought into flamenco use only a few decades ago) is considered a "very" flamenco instrument and is being used almost universally in the art form.No one will ever be able to deny the great importance this one man has had on the development and the appreciation of the flamenco guitar, yes, of flamenco and of guitar music in general. An innovator will tread where others have not gone, and therefore will always be one step ahead of everyone else. And for that reason will be often misunderstood, certainly by those who cling to forms from the times that they themselves started appreciating flamenco.Paco de Lucia has for the past 50 years devoted his life to the flamenco guitar and culture. While other mortals spent time with their families, Paco was spreading the word on his culture, and defending flamenco against prejudice that classified it as "music of the street". He would come back from a US tour, looking forward to spending three days over Christmas with his family before flying off to Argentina, only to learn that there was TV and press-conference duty that reduced his time off to ... three hours. To us, the audience, he gave his huge and incredible work output, both recorded, and on the concert stage. It has been a sacrifice, to gain appreciation for his beloved flamenco.To me, his finest albums, the ones that I most recommend, are: "Almoraima" (1976), "Siroco" (1988) and "Luzia" (1998). Of those three to my ears, Almoraima is the first album in which Paco really outlines his signature unorthodox approach: the Alegría with the choir, the use of an oud (Arab lute), the deliberate build-up of the album as a whole, yes indeed the production (unheard of!). His albums up until this one had consisted of superior guitar playing, but in other people's mold. Here, Paco creates his own terrain, and that of many guitarists to follow. A gem, a jewel of a work where I cannot find a bad or overlooked moment.After this, Paco comes out with extraordinary albums like "Solo Quiero Caminar" and many others, in which he explores his boundaries and does some of his best playing, but always in a jazzier context.Then, he releases "Siroco": an album of so much purity, that it almost feels as if you are "there", listening to Paco play in an intimate setting. The first time I heard "Siroco" was in a very impersonal big department store in Córdoba. Tears streamed over my face during the opening song: I forgot totally where I was and let me be grabbed by this beautiful guitar playing. Well over a decade of listening to this album have not diminished its enchantment. This is to where the flamenco guitar had developed: the master first learned how to play traditionally, took an experimental and then jazzy approach, and now came back, enriched, to the roots to make a profound statement of what could be done within this traditional yet totally new idiom.Other, younger players stood up and gave Paco a run for his money. We heard the records and concerts of people like Gerardo Nuñez, Cañizares, Tomatito, and of course Vicente Amigo, and these guitar players, who started with the level and musicianship of Paco as the leading example, and current trend, of course developed it further, and impressed us all. And, well, Paco surely was resting on his laurels. Wrong. Out comes "Luzia". It is as if Paco de Lucia wanted to set the record straight: who exactly is the master of flamenco guitar? This is an album by a mature player who is in total control of both his instrument and his idiom of choice. Gone is the youthful exploration of "Almoraima", and in comes a statement so profound and personal it is almost frightening. Paco sings (!) of how his friend and long-time collaborator, gypsy singer El Camaron, has been taken away from his side (Cameron died in 1992). There are two bulerias on this cd that are so flawlessly filled with new and exciting material it is frightening. A solea that has melodies straddling the traditional compas in a way that had never been done before and yet makes total sense; a siguiryias that builds like a classical composition.... All right, the Alegría seems a reworking of that on "Siroco" (but just as great), and the Tangos (with Duquende singing) sounds a little too easy-listening to me, but all-in-all this ranks in my world as the definitive Paco de Lucia-album.To anyone who is in doubt whether to buy "Almoraima", "Siroco" or "Luzia", my honest advice is: skip dinner and buy all three."
A Must-Buy for Any De Lucia Fan
TinaTango8@aol.com | Washington, D.C., USA | 06/01/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Siroco is a must buy for any de Lucia fan and definitely, any flamenco fan. De Lucia takes traditional flamenco to another level in this CD. His genius is respecting the compas of each flamenco rhythm on this CD while embellishing it with a more "contemporary sound." Well worth it at any price. Ele!"
Theodosios | ON, Canada | 10/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album made me want to throw my guitars into the fireplace (and I'm not kidding). La Barrossa has to be the finest guitar piece I've ever heard. The word "genius" is often misused on those who really are not. Well...flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia really is. Aside from his rediculously flawless technique, his musical ideas, especially considering the times, are incredibly rich, complex, and just brilliant. Granted, some of Paco's music goes right over my head, and can take a lifetime to disect. This is not music for "flamenco purists." When anything in life runs its course, the universe has a way of shaking it up it (sometimes violently) to keep it in line with its ultimate destiny, neverending growth. Paco de Lucia is that shakeup, and has given us a lifetime of inspiration.
My only quip with this album is the production style. It's in the typical style of most modern flamenco records, drowning everything in reverb. Just my personal preference, I'd prefer a bit more warmth and upfront presence.
I would also highly suggest his Luzia (1998) and Live in America (1993)."