Not Traveling To Spain? Try Listening To Some Flamenco

Friday, September 10, 2010

This summer, when people would ask me what I was listening to, I would likely list off a few indie bands or a few throwback albums I seemed to have missed out on in the ’80s (I’m looking at you New Order). But what I would fail to mention, for no real particular reason, is that every summer I listen to a lot of flamenco. I ask, is there any other style of music as closely and singularly associated with one particular country than flamenco is to Spain?

However, its image has been slightly tainted as being kitschy as a result of its unfortunate association (in the U.S. at least) with cleaning product commercials and Spanish tourism promotions. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Take for example the high regard that this very old, very technically difficult, very dynamic music has in the eyes of someone like famed jazz bassist Dave Holland (who, among other things, can count Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew to his credits).

A few years back, Holland met up with famed flamenco guitarist Pepe Habichuela, the acclaimed scion of a deep-rooted Gypsy family from Granada, as part of a jazz-meets-flamenco pairing instigated by a Sevilla arts organization. Both self-taught masters of their instrument, they instantly formed a connection and as a result of a time spent together over the course of three years — which included Holland traveling to Spain and immersing himself in flamenco music and culture — are putting out an album appropriately called “Hands” (which has been getting rave reviews where available — like this one from the Guardian and this one from the Telegraph). The album comes out here in the U.S. on October 5, 2010, but you can find some amazing performances online, like the one above of their track “Camarón (Taranta)” live in July at the San Sebastian Jazz Festival, to hold you over until then.

© 2018