Playing with Fire
by Robert Kaye
The article, interviewed many artists
"What makes music Flamenco".
Below are parts of Paco de Lucia and Miguel de la Bastide's interview.
In the 80's when
de Lucia and few others such as Manuel Molina, Spanish rock group like
Veneno and gypsy rockers Pata Negra began their hybrid experimentation,
the traditionalists openly scoffed. "Their feeling was, if you do
something different, you're sacrilegious," he says. "But I wanted,
I needed to do something different. I didn't agree with
their thinking. I had it very clear in my mind that if we still
played and sang and danced the same way, the same of my father and the
same of my grandfather, the music stands still. It's as good as
dead. So I felt I had to do something new, to get the same spirit,
because I'd grown up in the tradition, and knew it very well, but at the
same time I had be free to create music that was contemporary. And
so one day I saw it very clearly, I thought, 'Okay, I now play for me. I
play what I feel. I play what I think.' "
But unlike many
jazz musicians who often weave their solos around a series of chord
progressions, de Lucia says, "we don't have that kind of 'organized'
improvisation. In Flamenco it's different. We know that we
are in bulerías or siguiriyas or soleá ( the
principle rhythmic and song structures within Flamenco). But we
have to communicate with each other to create in that moment what is
happening, especially within the compás." In so doing, de
Lucia and others who have played with him - such as his brother Pepe,
bassist Benavent, woodwind player Jorge Pardo, percussionists Tino de
Geraldo and Rubem Dantas, and pianist Chano Dominguez - have gone on to
influence numerous others who've added to their own fabric to Flamenco's
richly woven tapestry.
For instance, regularly featured
on several of Narada's compilations is the Toronto-based guitarist
Miguel de la Bastide. Born in Trinidad, after relocating to Canada
when he was 18, de la Bastide later traveled to Spain on four separate
occasions to further his studies. His intensive exploration of and
natural proclivity for Flamenco led him to perform with dance companies
and theatres across North America and Europe. He's also a
recipient of the prestigious Chalmers Award and The Toronto Arts Council
Award. He recently self-produced his first solo album, El
Cambio (LBCD 0001).
"Today, there's been a shift,"
de la Bastide feels. "People in Spain generally don't think of it
as Flamenco as old or new, but Flamenco of different generations.
My uncle's generation Flamenco is different to mine, because we're
experiencing different lives. It's supposed to be an expression of
your own times." As far as those traditionalists who scorned some
of the early experimentation as with the incorporation of different
instruments, de la Bastide counters, "They have to realize that also
that the guitar was not originally in Flamenco either. It only
came into the picture a couple of centuries ago. Originally it was
cante, dance and percussion - whatever they could hit. So
(the traditionalist) can't really be dogmatic about what is or isn't
"What is Flamenco puro,
in actually, is the contents, and how it is structured. It's
always in the arrangement of the piece. And it really relates to
the cante, even if it's an instrumental composition," he
explains. "You have to meet the structure of the particular
palos - meaning the particular form that you're playing."
De la Bastide's
complelling music is a masterful, evocative blend of both past and
present, incorporating both traditional and newer instrumentation.
Similar to Paco de Lusic's Sextet, de la Bastide and his compatriots
expertly traverse through different worlds, exploring, rediscovering and
creating remarkable music in their travels.