PACO DE LUCIA
July 22, 2013 - 9:30 pm
Paco de Lucía is the most innovative and influential flamenco guitarist of the last forty years. One of the greatest musicians alive today, beyond genres, styles, or categories, he plays his way right into audience’s hearts with his brilliant mix of technical skill and feeling. He will be performing at Byblos accompanied by seven extremely talented artists from Spain and Cuba. Their music, song and dance will set this summer night on fire!
Since the late 1960s, Paco de Lucía recordings have had a revolutionary impact, infusing new life into flamenco and bringing it worldwide attention. His groundbreaking collaborations with jazz artists and his participation in notable soundtracks have brought him to the attention of a broad audience. Throughout his career, Paco de Lucía has celebrated this art form by revisiting its instrumentation and composition. He says this very personal process “is a result of everything I hear, of what I’m taking in from everything else I’m doing”, be it his explorations with his sextet, or his work with jazz guitarists John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola.
One of the great innovators in contemporary flamenco, Paco de Lucía started rather traditionally. He was born Francisco Sánchez Gomez in Algeciras, a city in the province of Cadiz, in the southernmost tip of Spain, on December 21, 1947. His stage name is a tribute to his mother: Paco is short for Francisco, and she was called Lucía (or, rather, Luzia since she was Portuguese).
His father, Antonio Sanchez, a day laborer, played guitar at night as a way to supplement his income. His father, his elder brother Ramon de Algeciras, and flamenco master Niño Ricardo were Paco de Lucía’s main influences. Paco’s first performance was on Radio Algeciras in 1958 when he was only eleven years old. His brothers Ramon and Pepe (a singer) are often part of Paco de Lucía groups.
In 1959, Paco de Lucía was awarded a special prize in the Jerez flamenco competition. Starting at fourteen, he toured with the flamenco troupe of fabled dancer Jose Greco for three seasons. While on tour with Greco’s dance company in the United States, Paco de Lucía met the great Sabicas, a guitarist whose name had become synonymous with flamenco in the U.S. “I was a child when I met him”, recalls Paco de Lucía. “He heard me play and basically said that for me to have a career I had to move away from imitation. I think he was annoyed with me because in those days there were two great schools of flamenco guitar: Niño Ricardo, who was the leader of my generation in Spain, and Sabicas, who was in the United States. So I came to him playing in Niño Ricardo’s style and I believe Sabicas got mad that I didn’t play his music. But it was useful; it shocked me and became a great impetus to go for my own style, my own thing”.
Paco de Lucía would follow Sabicas’ advice. He recorded his first album, Los Chiquitos de Algeciras, with his brother Pepe, in 1961 at the age of fourteen. But by 1967, with the release of La Fabulosa Guitarra de Paco de Lucía, Paco de Lucía began to distance himself from the influence of masters such as Ricardo and Mario Escudero. With the release of Fantasia Flamenca, two years later, he had defined his own style. His superb technique was showcased in well-designed pieces that departed from the flamenco tradition of theme and variations. In 1970, he made his debut at Carnegie Hall.
In 1968, he met Camarón de la Isla, one of the best flamenco singers of all time. The encounter grew into a personal and professional relationship that has been chronicled on more than ten records. Their album Potro de Rabia y Miel (1991) was one of the last recordings by Camarón, who died in 1992. Paco de Lucía paid a tribute to his friend and collaborator on “Camarón”, the closing track of his 1998 album Luzía and the only one he ever sang on.
Paco de Lucía’s new style became more evident in El Duende Flamenco (1972); Fuente Y Caudal (1973), which included the hit “Entre Dos Aguas”; and Almoraima (1976). They were followed by Paco de Lucía Interpreta a Manuel de Falla (1980), a superb tribute to the classical composer who was an admirer of flamenco music, and by Solo Quiero Caminar in 1981.
Flamenco die-hards have criticized Paco de Lucía for his forays into other styles. His own sextet, formed in 1981, included bass, drums, and saxophone. In addition to his work with McLaughlin and DiMeola, his high-profile collaborations include work with guitarist Larry Coryell, and pianist Chick Corea, who joined Paco’s sextet for Zyryab (1990). The stunning results of these collaborations have been documented in celebrated recordings with The Guitar Trio: Castro Marin (1979), Passion Grace and Fire (1983), and Friday Night in San Francisco (1981). In 1996, Paco de Lucía, McLaughlin, and DiMeola reunited for The Guitar Trio -their third album together- and a sold-out tour.
Paco de Lucía has also recorded soundtracks for films such as Carlos Saura’s “Carmen”, Borau’s “La Sabina”, and the ballet Los Tarantos, presented at Madrid’s prestigious Teatro de la Zarzuela in 1986. He was featured in Bryan Adams’ 1995 hit single and video “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman” from the film “Don Juan DeMarco”.
But periodically, he returns to pure flamenco with a vengeance as in the spectacular Siroco (1987). “Within the tradition, the flamenco orthodoxy, I was not taken seriously at first,” he says. “At some point I was thought of as sacrilegious and now it turns out I’m a master. Some thought I was just fooling around, and as it turns out my tomfoolery is much of today’s flamenco”.
One of the greatest musicians alive today, beyond genres, styles, or categories, “Paco is the best instance of what a star is. Listening to him, the novice listener will be enchanted, and the expert will go crazy… He’s got everything!” – Manolo Sanlúcar
In concert, the Maestro plays his way right into the heart of the audience with his brilliant mix of technical skill and feeling. He will be performing at Byblos accompanied by young artists from Spain and Cuba. Their music, song and dance exude both tradition and modernity: the beauty of the melodies and the fire of the rhythm will take your breath away.