From Israel to the Camargue, and from Barcelona to North Africa, flamenco forms and fusions are enchanting the faithful and converting new audiences.
Lenacay – born out of the disbanding of hip-hop flamenco innovators Ojos de Brujo in 2011 – seems to spin almost out of control with their fusions of bulerías, tangos, rumbas and soleas with Balkan, Latin and Indian music as well as club rhythms like dubstep and drum & bass, but are centered by flamenco. La Xula, who play sultry, avant-garde flamenco seduce by stealth.
Jerusalem-born Yasmin Levy brings her distinctive Ladino Jewish tradition to flamenco. While hers seems like a new branch, you might equally say she is rediscovering a forgotten strand of the roots of flamenco. Martirio, from Huelva, takes the sound forward through jazz treatments, and is equally at ease with tango, son and guaracha. ‘Fandangos’ plays off a moody midnight swing piano against her soaring flamenco vocal line.
Spanish label Nuevos Medios, sometimes referred to as the ‘Tamla Motown of flamenco’ is the home of Moorish-Cuban guitar quintet Son de la Frontera, flute and saxophone virtuoso (and Chick Corea collaborator) Jorge Pardo and Tomasa Guerrero Carrasco aka La Macanita, a singer who has stayed faithful to the gypsy cante style typical of her home town, Jerez de la Frontera.
These artists and the likes of Carlos Piñana, Londro, Carmelita Montoya and Carmen Linares are only ‘conservative’ in the sense that they embrace and nurture the ineffable, intangible quality of Andalusian flamenco: all are respected live performers, and bring that experience to their passionate, genre-expanding recordings.
Flamenco has a reputation for angst but with Mayte Martín’s ‘Por La Mar Chica Del Puerto’ we discover its intimate side. Completely different, but also heart-felt, the Camargue-based Gitano Family turn even the gloomiest images into bittersweet country songs.
This Rough Guide to Flamenco also comes with a bonus disc, featuring the music of Buenos Aires-based Al Toque Flamenco.