This little dog at the top of our road was barking at me and spinning in circles when I passed by on my way to the Corrales 4th of July Parade. Photos of the parade can be seen at http://photos.tandlphotos.com/blog/2016/7/2016-corrales-4th-of-july-parade
Sara Baras didn’t leave much of an impression in the fourth flamenco show. Belen Maya was much more interesting, but singer El Chocolate made the show in the 5th and last flamenco show we saw during our first three months in Madrid.
April 18, 1996
The fifth show included Chocolate and had a more modern dancer, Belen Maya, who was much more interesting that Sara Baras, but had too few moves and became quickly boring. Chocalate was excellent, but the guitarist who accompanied him and the other featured singer was totally boring. The other featured singer is not worth mentioning, as he did nothing extraordinary. What was extraordinary is that Fosforito and the young guitarist sitting in for Enrique del Malchor were special guests again. They seemed to have worked things out, because they were both great. A total change from Tuesday night. The guitarist had toned down his playing a bit, smoothed it out, and set himself to accompanying the cante. I hope he realizes that, his attention to the cante, and playing a slight more reserved, and in a more tastful manner, brought it home to the audience what a fine guitarist he is. It could be that the first guitaist was so boring that the new sound, lightning fast scales, and quick changes seemed fresh and fun in compairosn, where as Tuesday, he seemed busy and overpowering after Paco Cepero masterful playing. On Tuesday, Fosforito and his guitarist got a cool reception from the audience; but this night, they excited the audience, bringing gritos and applause for the great playing and emotionally, heart rendered words pouring forth from Fosforito’s pained, squinting face.
For the next several posts of Letters from Madrid…, I’m going to turn from music for a little bit and get into my observations and reactions to museums, architecture and planning, parks and open space, public restrooms, driving and tourists during our first three months in Madrid!
CHOCOLATE-JUAN HABICHUELA-FANDANGOS https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_9Z2OAVaO0
Mayte Martín & Belén Maya during IV Dutch Flamenco Biennale – Amsterdam, 1 February 2013 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1Yv9CBch5U
FOSFORITO Alegrías de Cádiz – Tesoros del Flamenco 1990 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSpZjAzVqC0
The third flamenco show we saw ended with guitarist Moraito Chico dancing a sassy bularias as everyone left the stage. The fourth flamenco show ended with polite applause for the dancer and the house lights coming on the user her group off the stage.
18 April 1996
The fourth flamenco concert was Rancapino and Chaqueton accompanied by Paco Cepero. I think I now understand the difference between being in compas and having a mastery of compas. Paco Cepero was delightful in accompaniment of Rancapino and Chaqueton. He proved to be a masterful accompanist, who left large spaces for the singer, brilliantly followed their cante, and filled the voids between versus with astonishing acts of rhythm with such mastery of the compas that he many times set the crowd roaring with gritos and applause, and delightful looks of approvals from the singer. He was not in the least a flashy player as we generally know them. He only had occasional burst of lightning picado, and his aso pura (a thumb technique) seemed slow by most standards, but his thumb work was very strong and accurate. His flashiness was in the compas. He was so comfortable with it, and so accurate about it, that he made the guitar sing like I have never heard. His accompaniment was soft, and airy during the cante, leaving ample space for the singer to impress upon the audience the full intention of his art in expressions, emotions, and vocal achievement. In some instances Paco would tastefully play the cante along with the singer emphasizing the intricacies and complexities of the compas so masterfully he about brought the house down. There was no better rhythm for Paco to show his superior sense of compas than bularias. He would leave so much space, play so many complex rastiados, and supported the singer so beautifully that his masterful jesting had everyone on the edge of their seats, bringing roars of approval and amazement from the audience, and even slight looks of approving astonishment from the singer. Everybody was amazed by the performance. Both singers were excellent; however, I liked Rancapino best of the two.
Fosforito and the young guitarist, who sat in instead of Enrique del Malchor, were quite a contrast to the masterful playing and great compass of that previously mentioned. The guitarist was an excellent player, very fast and modern. He was not as good an accompanist that night, however. There was a constant tension between the guitarist and singer, the compas was often funny, but not really off, between them, and the guitaist was always busy and overpowering of the singer. The many long, lightning speed scales, and modern chords did not seem to belong as part of the accompaniment, and were really more distracting and overpowering than complinentary to the cante. I could have done without both of them that night.
Sara Baras danced a lame Alegrias. She did not have one interesting move, her hands were ugly, she looked down most of the time, her neck was lost in her raised shoulders, she did all her taconeo with very bent knees, which she insisted on showing us, as she spent more time pulling her “butt hugging” dress up over her butt, exposing her overly bent knees, than she did dancing. I really could of done without her. I saw several members of the audience get up and walk out with disgusted looks on their faces during her performance. The audience was cold to her (refreshing to be among people who know a bad dance when they see it) and luckily she did no more. At the end of her dance, there was a polite applause from the audience, and then the house lights were brought up before the group had left the stage.
Next the fifth and final flamenco show I described in the April 18th letter
Actuación Paco Cepero y Rancapino Chico en los Claustros de Santo Domingo Jerez https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYT9wdTmX9U
CHIQUETETE – TE QUIERO NIÑA ( AL TOQUE PACO CEPERO ).wmv https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ir-M2L56CWQ
Fosforito – Cantiñas y Soleá https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yav46gr7mm0
Alegria, Sara Baras Flamenco Flamenco https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNcKVJsUkUI
After the first two flamenco shows we saw in Madrid, we were starting see how shows that featured singers and guitarists where staged and arranged, and the third show with Moraito Chico, Fernando de la Morena, La Macanita, Moraito Hijo (Diego del Marao), and Dieguito de la Margara was no different.
18 April 1996
The thrid flamenco show was really fun also. It started with Moraito Chico, the guitarist, a tall thin man, with greased hair and oval rimmed glasses playing a solo, seguiraya. Then Fernando de la Morena, one of the featured singers, came out and sang occapela. He was an older man who wore a double breasted suit and sang with a loud, low voice He made great faces, and there was dead silence during the pauses in the letra, which he broke as he attacked the next phrase with the full force of his voice. This contrast was very beautiful. He walked off the stage, and a few minutes later Moraito Chico returned with 3 palmeros. After situating themselves, a slightly large woman, but not fat, with a round pretty face, thick red lips, jet black eyes and black hair pulled back on her head, wearing a fire red dress, appeared on the stage. This was La Macanita and she had a wide smile and brilliant white teeth framed by her pretty red lips. She was greeted with “La gitana guapa!” from the audience as she walked on the stage.
Her voice was low and sultry, not really powerful. She made slightly pained facial expression, pointed into the crowd, stretched both arms in front, moving them to her side and then she would elegantly place both hands over her heart as she closed a stanza. She turned her head slightly towards the guitarist as he filled the spaces between the letras, allowing the audience to gaze upon her pretty face, and comely features of her head. When she finished a song she would dart up out of her chair and take a few steps toward moving off stage, then stop and bow and signal for the guitarist to stand and bow. She sang a soleares, zambra, and bularias.
She, the guitarist and palmeros left the stage. In a few minutes Moraito Hijo, another guitarist, Fernando de la Morena, and three plameros appeared on stage. Moraito Hijo, who is a nephew or some other relation to Moraito Chico, was tall, very young between 18 and 22, and obviously not as experienced a player as Moraito Chico. He was obviously very nervous, and he slouched over the guitar, a strange position from the very straight posture of most of the guitarists we’ve seen perform. He started playing with the very basic most simple notes, chords and style possible. He also arrived at the cords slightly ahead of the singer (out of nervousness and obviously inexperience). As he played he became more confortable and the playing was better. The singer sat with his feet together, his hands on his thighs and a serious expression on his face, it was very powerful. He sang a soleares, seguiraya, fandangos grande and bularias. During the bularias Dieguito de la Margara, who was one of the palmeros, came out and danced. I learned later, from Angel Torres, that Dieguito de la Margara danced until he was 14 years old, then became a professional soccer player. He retired at age 30 and is now back to dancing.
The second set included both guitairsts, the two singers, three palmeros and Dieguito de la Margara. La Macanita sang a bularias, danced a little and came out and sang to the audiance from the edge of the stage without a mic. This caused a bit of alarm among the guitarist who abviously could not hear her over the monitors. They made the best of it and she finished her letra and danced off the stage. She came back out, set down and Fernando sang a bularias. During his letra each of the palmeros came out and danced, Dieguito de la Margara danced, and then the La Macanita danced with Dieguito de la Margara and they dance off stage. The audince brought everyone back for an encore during which Fernando took Moraito Chico’s giutar from him and made him dance. He actually danced very well, did a couple of nice moves and then danced off with the group moving his hips in that sassy bularias style. It was really fun.
To be continued with the fourth flamenco show…
Moraito Chico – Seguiriyas.wmv https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xV2EBQAsI9I
Moraíto Chico & Fernando de la Morena https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-B8rWQYIg8
Fernando de la Morena – fandango grande! 2015 (en la Garcia Lorca) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZbfDXQSEH8
Canta; La Macanita Guitarra; Moraito Chico Bulería por Soleá https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKKvi20BzO0
La Macanita, Parrilla y Moraito – Tangos https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RD6NTgqn-NY
BAILANDO-MACANITA-PARRILLA Y MORAITO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FebNWmD-J18
DIEGO DEL MORAO – Del Cuartichi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHUJSnsPia0 (Moraito Hijo)
Dieguito el de La Margara https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aemwZLp7dEo (documentary when he was 14)
Jesus Mendez, Diego del Morao, Moraito y Diego de Margara – Bulerias https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCJjuYzg2gw (Diego de Margara as an adult dances near the end)
After discovering the large and vibrant music scene in Madrid, and after seeing LaBanda live at Cafe Jazz Populart, we started finding flamenco shows, and went to five flamenco shows in the first 3 months we were in Madrid. Flamenco shows usually had several different performers that included singers, guitarist, dancers and various supporting musicians playing palmas (hand clapping), cajon (a box drummed on by hand) and sometimes flute and/or strings. Sometimes a show was simply a singer and guitarist, solo guitar or a dancer or dance group with accompanying singer, guitarist/guitarists and palmeros, but shows with many artists seemed to be more common.
The first show we saw included Potito (singer) accompanied by guitarist Tomatito in the first part of the show and then Jose Fernandez (dancer) and his company the second part of the show. The second show was El Lebrijano (singer) accompanied by guitarist Enrique de Melchor with supporting palmeros.
18 April 1996
The first flamenco concert we saw featured Potito with Tomatito on guitar the first half and Jose Fernandez and company the second half. It was a good performance, but different from the shows we’ve seen at home. This was Potito’s debut performance promoting his new album. He sang and Tomatito accompanied. On some of the songs there was a second guitar, bass, cajon and palmero. Jose Fernandez is a dancer, and he was the only dancer. He had two guitarists, two singers, two palmeros, a cajon player and a cellist to support him. The theater is under the plaza at Colon circle, just down the street from where we live. The volume was not high and the sound was good.
The second show we went to featured El Lebrijano and Enrique de Melchor. El Lebrijano is an excellent singer, one of the best we have heard. Enrique is a fine guitarist. El Lebrijano’s voice is strong, his expression, delivery and sincerity are honest, and animated. He sings right to the audience and relates his stories through song with gestures and facial expressions that convey the convictions of his heart, soul and words. Enrique de Melchor is a flashier player than Tomatito, but was still very restrained as compared to many I have heard at home. His quick busts of speed, his clear tone, and clean changes assure the listener he is a fine guitarist, but again, he never does anything to upscale the singer. He is attentive, supportive, and does what is required to accompany and enhance the singer’s tonality. There were three palmeros that assisted at times and towards the end, one palmero, who was the same person with Potito, and I was thinking maybe he is a house palmero, got up and danced during a bularias, mocking the style of women dancers. He was very good actually, with strong, fancy displantes, hip movement, and great facial expression and greetos. On another bularias, El Lebrijano did his share of dancing while, the house palmero sang. The audience brought the group back 3 times for encores. This was good cause for them to call one of the other, younger, palmeros to dance. His dance was short and simple but fun, he is not a ham like the house palmero and the singer. The house palmero danced some more and then he and El Lebrijano danced together a little bit and danced off the stage together to end what was a very good show.
Next the third flamenco show…
Tomatito & Potito | Caminillo Viejo (tangos) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34yscu_bAsQ
El Lebrijano & Enrique de Melchor – Seguiriyas https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qr3gmRppEsc
In the last Letter From Madrid we were looking for flamenco classes and I had found a great guitar teacher. Today I move to the music scene we encountered in Madrid soon after we got there in 1996. I wrote the first letter I’m sharing on April 18, 1996 after we had been in Madrid about three months — we discovered at that time Madrid had a very active live performance scene, and we had already seen more than a dozen live performances by the middle of April. We were there primarily to study flamenco, and one aspect of studying flamenco was to go to as many performances by different flamenco artists as possible so we could see what was current, and the different styles of flamenco being performed. While flamenco was the majority of shows we saw, we went to every kind of concert from Rock & Roll to jazz to chamber music to classical. I found a spreadsheet that I kept on every concert and artist we saw perform live in 1996. The tally was 83 concerts and 187 individual performers.
The “Music” section will take several posts because the descriptions of many of the performances we saw in the first three months in Madrid are detailed and long.
I discuss LaBanda in this post. They were the first band we saw perform live in Madrid, and after some time we became loyal followers of the band, groupies if you will, and got to know the band members well enough that we would sit around and talk with them between sets. Be sure to check out the Youtube videos at the end of this post. Two of the videos are from a TV series on the arts. The lead guitarist, Leo, talks about the group, and if you don’t understand Spanish, don’t worry, most of the time is spent on them performing live.
18 April 1996
The music scene in Madrid is big and hopping. There are advertisements for concerts all over the place. Green Day is coming as are “The Smashing Pumpkins” as the posters have it written, Sting, Kiss (unplugged), the Sex Pistols (what’s left living I guess), Mark Knoffler and about every other currently popular or once popular group plus a lot of Spanish and European groups we don’t hear about in the states. There are classical guitar concerts, ballets, musicals, plays and orchestras playing almost every night. We went to a really good salsa dance with two bands that played until 5:00 am, and we saw Irakere, Cuba’s most celebrated salsa/jazz group. We have seen five really good flamenco concerts. We went to Jazz Club Populart on Friday nights in March and listened to the bands they have (April’s lineup didn’t look as good, we will have to see what’s on in May). The first band we heard was a Celtic music band named LaBanda and they were excellent. I would like to see them again. The second group was a blues group. They were pretty good. The leader is from New York and gave us his telephone number, and we have talked a few times since. We are planning to get together with him, his wife, and his daughter. We listened to a reggae band there also, but they did not do much for us. We have seen many ads for ballroom dancing but have not made it out to see what it’s like here. There is so much going on that we could spend every day and night of the week going to museums, concerts, plays, symphonies and discos, listening to whatever live music we are in the mood for in bars and night clubs. With that we would not even begin to see or hear a fraction of what’s available.
The band that plays Celtic music is worth mentioning. The group is called LaBanda, and they were quite good and the music fun. There was a bass player, drummer, keyboard player, guitarist/vocalist, violinist and a guy who played all kinds of flutes, small reed instruments and the bagpipes. The music was a mix of traditional rhythms with a rock under-beat. The tunes went from traditional to rock and roll. A lot of the tonality between the guitar, violin, and keyboard had an early Kansas sound to it. The band was tight, there was good balance on the sound, and they sounded great. They did lose a little of the Celtic quality from the vocal arrangements being sung in Spanish. However, in one song the guitarist/vocalist got the whole crowd to yell “hey”, “hey hey” at a break in the music. It was pretty funny hearing a bunch of Spaniards yell “hey”. The second time around he said we had to sound more English “you’re learning the language now” he said in Spanish, “say it” “heyy”, “heyy heyy” drawling the words into two syllables. This was even funnier. The band was not very loud. For a matter of fact, the band was having a bit of trouble competing with a few groups of Spaniards setting in the front of the bar. The guitarist finally went back and turned up the volume to drown out the Spaniards, which I think they only matched the volume. The evening was lots of fun and very entertaining.
To be continued…
Labanda – Fin de Semana https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JS5OXn8Dgfo
LABANDA. PROGRAMA ESPECIAL 1 DE 2 (1992) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIQlkrzBuBU
LABANDA. PROGRAMA ESPECIAL 2 DE 2 (1992) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbeLeRWHww8
LaBanda – La Batalla De Somme https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wTV3J3WJIs
The first letter from Madrid left the us worn out from crisscrossing Madrid trying to finish up the paperwork for our residency cards. The saga continues with us looking for flamenco classes, a description of where we lived and Tristan’s schooling. She was 9 years old when we moved to Spain.
18 April 1996
With the paperwork out of the way, Laurie and I went off in search of flamenco classes. Of course finding dance classes was not difficult and Laurie is taking class every day for two hours, and is looking into adding some other classes. I got lucky, and found an excellent guitarist, Miguel Rivera. who has taken me as a student. He was recommended by Pablo’s old teacher, Angel Torres. Miguel is a superb player, fast and clean like Paco de Lucia, very tasteful and very knowledgeable. He is constantly on tour with flamenco groups, so I get lessons when he is town for a couple of days between shows. He is performing in northern Spain, Italy and Poland for the next three weeks. He has me playing some very difficult material plus he has exercises for every technique and fingering I am deficient in (which is about everything). The style is very different from what I have played and is taking a lot of getting used to. I’m slowly adjusting and my speed and clarity is improving already. I am very excited about the guitar right now.
We live in the barrio called Chambari, in a small, but comfortable, fairly modern apartment. As it turns out, Chambari is a fairly upscale area, and this is the best priced apartment we have found so far, especially considering it has central heat and air-conditioning (Heating is not standard in apartments, and air-conditioning is rare) included in the rent. We are central to everything and right on a metro stop. There is a nice playground/park up the street from us where Tristan goes to play in the evenings. There are a lot of families in this area and Tristan has made several friends. There are real grocery stores fairly close by, a nice market down the street, a great book store around the corner, and the main branch of the public library up the road a bit. After looking at several apartments in the areas we like, we have come to the conclusion we are in the least expensive apartment we can find, so we are staying put at the moment.
Tristan is being home schooled, which is not something normally done in Spain, as most people don’t understand the concept. The Spanish schools are in session until the end of May and then have a break until the middle of September. We might put Tristan in School in September. Classes run from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday here. Tristan doesn’t even want to consider it at the moment. She has just finished a fourth grade math book and moved on to a fifth grade math book (she is a third grader). She is reading regular novels in English (middle to high school level), plus the Bible and some easier history, horse and bird books in Spanish on her own. Laurie is reading Don Quijote and Greek Myths in Spanish to her. Tristan has to do handwriting exercises and write at least a page, plus she has to write letters and post cards to friends and family. I work with her on Geography and Geology from a couple of very good, generally middle school level, text books. She has an Explora science book that she is reading and doing experiments on her own with. We go to the museums regularly so Tristan is getting art, art history and Spanish history. As she has learned from looking at the classic paintings, you have to know history, the Bible stories and mythology to understand many of the paintings. She is reading the Bible and discovering many of the stories in the paintings. She is also starting to understand and see a lot of the mythology and history in the paintings also. She is actually getting somewhat of a St. Johns College curriculum in her home studies.
We have not done a lot of site seeing outside of Madrid. There is so much to do here that it is tough to get out. We are what I would call micro tourists. We are getting to know an area of about 36 square kilometers in the center of Madrid very well; and that is a very small area of the city. We are finding all kinds of great museums and seeing great musical performances, learning the history of this wonderful city, and how to get about in it.
More to come…
While I did not take many photos the first couple of years we lived in Spain, I did find videos of Miguel Rivera, the guitarist I studied with in Madrid. Although the videos where posted on Youtube only in the past 5 years, some of them go back to the the 1990’s. The last one below that is very recent.
Flamencos de la Feria – Suite Sevilla Obra de Rafael Riqueni por Miguel Rivera y René Mora https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5rBpcCFSCM (Miguel is on the right side of the screen)
El Real – Suite Sevilla obra de Rafael Riqueni por Miguel Rivera, René Mora y David Vázquez https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6WaVEGjRx4 (Miguel is on the right side of the screen)
Bulerías – Miguel Rivera https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r51aSk7fDOI
Así suena el genial Miguel Rivera https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63H-1EW9e_8 (Miguel in 2014)