Flamenco Guitar – Stars and Superstars
Flamenco Guitar stars are not as numerous as stars in other musical styles. But they definitely exist. Leading the pack, without a doubt, is Paco de Lucia. Easily the most Internationally recognized Flamenco Guitarist. And, with good reason. Paco’s innovations, plus his ability and desire to explore other musical genres while respecting his Flamenco heritage, introduced Spanish Music to a wider audience.
A child prodigy, who received no formal instruction, Paco began performing professionally at the age of 17, with Jose Greco’s dance company. Later he spent 8 years accompanying the legendary Flamenco singer – Carmen De la Istra.
His tour with fellow guitar stars, John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola, with their live CD, “Friday Night in San Francisco”, took Flamenco Guitar Music to a new plateau. Solo, and with his group, Paco continues to explore new musical territory, while remaining true to his musical roots.
Paco’s integration of Jazz, Pop, Rock, Classical and World styles into his music has, logically, influenced and inspired the current generation of Flamenco Guitar Stars. Canadian |Jesse Cook with his Rhumba rhythms. Lawson Rollins, referencing many locations on the musical globe. The awesome technique and passionate performance of Miguel De La Bastide. Trinidad’s most celebrated musical export.
But none of these great guitarists could have become “Stars” – without the “Superstars of Flamenco. ” The pioneers who developed and innovated Flamenco Guitar Music. These “Roots Superstars” made two game changing contributions to the evolution of Flamenco Guitar Music.
First, and most importantly, They elevated the Flamenco Guitar from it’s accompanying role to a solo one. Second – They took Spanish Music on tour. Bringing, for the first time, authentic Flamenco Music to an International audience. These “Pioneer Superstars” – The original Legends of Flamenco – were Ramon Montoya, Sabicas, and Nino Ricardo.
Like most early Flamenco Guitarists, Ramon Montoya came from humble origins. A Family of Gypsy cattle traders. But through sheer talent and determination, he evolved into the most important guitarist of his generation. For one principal reason. Ramon Montoya was the first to establish the Flamenco Guitar as a solo instrument. Taking it away from, and beyond it’s traditional role accompanying dancers and singers.
But it was Sabicas, the next Flamenco Guitar Superstar, who continued and expanded Montoya’s accomplishments. Leaving Spain in 1936 with the outbreak of civil war, Sabicas toured South America and other countries. Bringing Flamenco Music to an even wider audience. Noted for his exceptional technique, Sabica’s received the ultimate compliment from the late American guitar superstar Chet Atkins, who commented in an interview: “The best technique qround has got to be Sabicas, the Flamenco player. “
Perhaps the saddest note in the History of the Flamenco Guitar Superstars is the life of Nino Ricardo. An enormous talent, with a unique tone and style derived from upward curving fingernails, Nino was universally regarded as the best guitarist of his day. Celebrated, and, of course, widely imitated. He died of liver failure at the age of 68. Possibly aggravated by his early years of constant playing in Seville’s bars and cafes.
These Superstars of Flamenco Guitar laid the foundations now being built upon and expanded by the current generation of Flamenco Guitar Stars. The most notable being – Santiago Cortez. Like Paco, Santiago excels in seamlessly integrating non-flamenco influences in his compositions. While always remaining true to his Flamenco roots. His formidable technique, always enhancing, never overpowering his melodic gifts, has established Santiago as a unique and valued contributor to the continuing evolution of Flamenco Guitar Music.