An upbeat play list for the weekend

Apropos of absolutely nothing. A happy play list. All flamenco (or almost) and all songs that are happy, upbeat and just fun. Enjoy. You might even try having a dance. Mrs Maki says it isn’t that hard!

Enrique de Melchor RIP

The Flamenco guitarist Enrique de Melchor died yesterday at the age of 61. He was one of the best of his generation, as highly regarded as both Paco de Lucía and Manolo Sanlúcar. Born Enrique Jiménez Ramírez in Marchena, Seville, he was the son of the guitarist Melchor de Marchena from whom he took his stage name. A brilliant accompanist, he played with the likes of José Mercé, El Lebrijano, José Menese and Carmen Linares amongst others. He “understood the secrets of el cante” better than any other of his generation according to those who were lucky enough to sing with him.

Here are a couple of performances, by way of tribute:
First off a “Soleá“:

And here’s a “Rondeña“:

Flamenco 33 – The Origins

Carretas Gitanas

We can’t end our exploration of Flamenco without going back to the beginning and talking about the music and cultures that have come together to make Flamenco one of the best known artistic and cultural movements in the world. So we’re going to take a short trip through time trying to find out a little about all the factors that over the ages have influenced and contributed to what today we know as Flamenco. The origins are hard to trace and pin down – a lot of what has been written is based on oral tradition and tales handed from generation to generation (no doubt getting embellished and twisted over the years) – but this is what we’ve found out and we want to share it with you.
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Christmas Eve Flamenco

Today’s the day in Spain. Christmas Eve, Nochebuena, is when we get together with all the family, have a slap up meal, drink a little more than is customary and maybe even exchange the odd present. Although if we’re being strictly traditional the presents should wait till the Magi bring them on twelfth night. My family’s lucky we get Santa and The Magi. Double pressies!

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Flamenco 32 – A Few We Couldn’t Leave Out (2)

This is the second of our posts highlighting the work of a number of artists we felt we had to mention before we bring the series to a close. We hope you enjoy it.
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Flamenco 31 – A few we couldn’t leave out (1)

As our series on Flamenco draws to a close we are going to round it off with a couple of posts in honour of the artists we have perhaps only mentioned in passing or missed out altogether. It doesn’t feel right to finish without mentioning them. Some of them are artists from a long time ago and despite being an integral part of the history of the genre have only a limited presence on-line. Others are still active. This is the first of two posts, the second will be next Friday (16th December). We will be doing a special post for Christmas Eve and finish the series the following Friday (30th December) with a look at the history and origins of the genre. We hope you have enjoyed the series.
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Flamenco 30 – Enrique Morente and family

There is so much we could say about the subject of this week’s post but we’ll keep it short. Enrique Morente, who passed away earlier this year, was a true giant in the Flamenco world in his own right: a Cantaor of no little talent and one of the bravest when it came to experimenting both with form and cross-genre fusion. For that alone he would be remembered with respect and admiration. But there was so much more to the man than that. His investigation of the history of Flamenco, of the roots of the lost forms or palos and the work he did both with his own recordings and those of others to bring them back into the public consciousness and revive their popularity was a major and totally decisive contribution to the resurgence the genre has enjoyed in recent decades. Simply put, without Enrique Morente Flamenco would not have traveled as far as it has in the last thirty years and the debt aficionados such as ourselves and many of today’s most successful performers owe him is immeasurable.
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Flamenco 29 – Arcángel

This week we’ve decided to have a look at the career so far of one of our favourite contemporary Cantaores, Francisco José Arcángel Ramos “Arcángel”. Arcángel has worked his way up through the ranks and now enjoys considerable success and respect in Flamenco circles and beyond. This is, perhaps, in many ways the not entirely surprising story of the rise and consolidation of a surprisingly remarkable talent.
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Flamenco 28 – Different routes to recognition

This week we are going to take a look at two more cantaores who are enjoying considerable success both commercially and, in our opinion, artistically. Two very different artists who have won Grammy Awards this year. Both of whom have deep Flamenco roots but, like so many of our favourite artists, have looked beyond traditional horizons and tried their hand at other genres. Niña Pastori’s brand of light, pop-tinged Flamenco has made her famous and led to her being invited to feature on many more mainstream artists’ projects but she still conserves a fine Flamenco voice and considerable “duende” when singing some of the more traditional palos. Diego “El Cigala” draws on a deeper Flamenco heritage and both his voice and delivery have at times been compared favourably with the great Camarón himself and yet he has been involved in at least two of the most memorable cross genre projects of the last decade. We hope you enjoy finding out a little more about them or revisiting their work.
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Flamenco 27 – Breaking the mold

This week we’re moving back a little to take a look at the careers so far of two artists who have been willing to assume change and new challenges, looking for new paths and byways for Flamenco to explore.
We’re going to have a more detailed look at the work of the great Cantaora Mayte Martín (who we have already seen singing a Vidalita in our post on Cantes de Ida y Vuelta 3) and that of Belén Maya the Bailaora: two brave women who, with an open mind and no little talent, have challenged and pushed the limits of traditional Flamenco.
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