"Jóvenes flamencos": how it happenned, what it brought to us


4 fév. 2007, 14h01m

Back at the time when I wrote this post inspired by Ketama, barewires asked me to develop on the subject. I have made an attempt to structure my memories from 10 years ago, when I fell in love with flamenco. And this is what this post will be about, and I will not pretend to give accurate details such as dates and so on. For real flamenco history, I recommend that you visit sites such as this one http://www.esflamenco.com/enindex.html or many others that you will find easily by typing the word in any search engine.

The revolution of what in the nineties got the name of "Jóvenes Flamencos" is nothing but a natural evolution of traditional flamenco music exposed to other western music styles, which peak took place in the 90`s.

I discovered flamenco with the film "Flamenco" by film maker Carlos Saura. I strongly recommend it to understand how it all happened and, what follows in the post really can be seen there, together with dancing, essential for full understanding of this genre.

It can be said that the impulse of flamenco to new sounds took place in the voice and guitar playing of Camarón de la Isla and Paco de Lucía, executed by a very wise, business and artist oriented father of Paco.

They released many albums to be quoted here, but I recommend to get hold of Potro de Rabia y Miel, from 1990 to get an insight of the achievement of the musical work of these two artists.

They played regularly together until late 1970's, and occasionally returned to play together, as the above mentioned album proves. Paco de Lucía streched his knowledge to jazz setting up Paco de Lucía Sextet, originally made up of Jorge Pardo on flute and soprano sax, Carles Benavent on threadless bass, Rubem Dantas on percussion - by the way, this is THE GUY that, together with Paco, made a place of the Cajón Flamenco in the music, an instrument they discovered in Perú during their tours -, Pepe de Lucía on "cante" (singing), Ramón de Algeciras second guitar - these two, brothers of Paco -, and Jaquín Grilo on dance/percussion.

In the meantime, Camarón got together with Tomatito, yet another talent from Almería which nowadays works with jazzmen such as Michel Camilo.

Also at this time, Pata Negra, a band lead by the brothers Raimundo Amador and Rafael Amador, started exploring flamenco and rock&roll. While less intellectual, their music really rocked. It is really worthwhile to check out the documentary "El Ángel" to understand the role of the Amador family in flamenco, and also explore the gipsy culture. It simply fantastic, and unveals a view of their habits which not even most Spaniards are aware of.

For those who do not know, flamenco music belongs to the Spanish gipsies, which have a (very strong) culture of their own.

Meanwhile, other artists such as Manolo Sanlucar, Carmen Linares, Enrique De Melchor, Jose Mercé with guitarist Moraito and a long lists of etceteras were doing some excellent work. Most visible was that of Lole Y Manuel, a duet and matrimony which Lole's beautiful voice took as far as to record an album with the Spanish National Orchestra. A song from this recording can be heard in Tarantino's soundtrack of Kill Bill.

In 1992, Camarón passed away. The nostalgy and love for what he represented put upside down the flamenco world, and the "Jóvenes Flamencos" emerged with great passion. At this stage, it is crucial to mention Ketama, which incorporated salsa rhythms and pop styles to flamenco.

Bailaores (dancers) evolved at the same time. Check out the dancing of Antonio Canales, Sara Baras or Eva la Yerbabuena (use youtube for this). All of them supported by bands which included the popular singers like Potito, Duquende, guitarists such as Gerardo Nunez...

I would like to also mentioned the only band that joint the revolution not with pop, rock or jazz, but with Middle Eastern and North African styles;Radio Tarifa.

I could list an endless list of other great artists from the 90's, but let me now mention what has consolidated in the 2000.

In this decade, the euphoria that surrounded Jovenes Flamencos has calmed down, and in fact bands such as Ketama have finally split. Fernando Trueba's film http://www.calle54film.com/ Calle 54 has relaunched some artists by putting together them with other musicians. Check out Grammy's winner Bebo & Cigala, a duet interpreting traditional (non flamenco) songs with cuban piano playing by Bebo Valdés, and flamenco singing by Diego El Cigala. Also check out the artwork from jazz pianist Chano Domínguez, supported by sidemen such as dancer and singer Tomasito or percussionist El Piraña.

So what was all this Jóvenes Flamencos about? Well, it has finally overcome the embarrassment that many Spaniards had about this music style - it was thought of as old fashion -, and created great new musical mixes, exporting them to the whole world, and has also captured attention of great jazz musicians such as Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, to mention only a few.

It is also great to check out, via last.fm, the impact of this musical revolution in the popular Spanish bands such as Chambao, Bebe, or Ojos de Brujo, as well as to see that most of our top local bands in Spain, clearly insinuate the soul from the "Jóvenes Flamencos".

Let me also drop you a three videos from youtube, all from Carlos Saura's film Flamenco.

First, what flamenco was all about before, bulerías de Jerez "por fiesta"

What Farruco tought to Farruquito his son, hence how flamenco survives to generations

And what the Jóvenes Flamencos resulted in


  • mjcrbt

    Very interesting reading. I added some of those artists to my latin tag. That Lole & Manuel song is great !

    4 fév. 2007, 19h07m
  • barewires

    Thanks. My ignorance is at least somewhat reduced. I discovered that the public library has Carlos Suara's Flamenco so I am going to get that film. The video footage really adds a new dimension to the music. A few of the musicians that you mention are ones I am already familiar with: Paco de Lucia, Camaron, Tomatito, and Bebo & Cigala. Most I am unfamiliar with - I will need to remind myself to check out the global flamenco radio and to the latin tag of mjcrbt. One thing that I have noticed is that there is a common sound in gypsy music, regardless of national origin. I hear the same sounds in Spain, Greece, the Balkans, and even down into the middle east.

    11 fév. 2007, 17h08m
  • Nillo86

    That is right Barewires, they all have a common phrygian mode sound. These sounds belong to gipsies who originally came down from India, crossing the middle east to finally come to Spain - remember that Spain was invaded by the Moors back in X century or so - Flamenco dates from end of Century XIX. My guess is that at some point some of them migrated further north regions like the balkans, Greece, etc. I am curious to find out how it all happened. It is also interesting to check out that any gipsy, not only has common sounds, but a very similar look of dark skin and strong look.

    12 fév. 2007, 11h33m
  • VadaniaFlame

    First thing: very nice and explaining-a-lot article. I read it with pleasure. Now, the story of Gypsies is really complicated - a subject for another article. But the main problem is that today we can find a lot of gypsy subnations and creation of all of them (also their culture and some characteristics) is the outcome of their journeys. Some Gypsies (or their direct descendants) live now in Africa, Middle East because while the big migration of gypsy ascendants from India have started, they settled in this places. The same history repeats in the case of eastern Gypsies (in Poland, Slovakia, Romania,...), western - Spain, Portugal or even with the Exodus and before - to both Americas. Nowadays Gypsies are not migrating for such a big scale, but results of their journeys are visible, particularly in their culture and because of long years when they hadn't any writing, the best way to observe them is to analyze their language and music. Although there are many subnations we can distinguish three main groups: Gypsies of the West (flamenco, rythyms 4/4 and 6/8), Gypsies of the East (music of Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary with various rythyms, usually broken for 10) and Manush - nation derived from both eastern and western Gypsies (they're playing a lot of different music, but the most known Manush are jazz musicians: Django Reinhardt and Joe Zawinul). To sum it up, if anybody has more questions - I can tell the whole story.

    13 fév. 2007, 23h58m
  • Nillo86

    Vadania, thanks for your comment. Summarizing the musical history of gipsies is something that I have always been looking after. Go ahead and post about it! Many of us will thank you lots for that :o)

    14 fév. 2007, 7h59m
  • evangeline6

    i just saw carlos saura's film in my intermediate spanish class. it was beautiful.

    17 fév. 2007, 18h37m
  • EduMusic

    Great reading. Do ou know El Bicho? It's one of the best flamenco fusion band of Spain. Flamenco, jazz, funk and progressive rock. Sounds really good. I arrive here by Michel Camilo conexion, I hope you'll enjoy that video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXT07AnkYRE Its from a Fernando Trueba's movie called Calle 54, about latin jazz (and too jazz flamenco (great Chano Domínguez live included))

    23 mai 2007, 1h37m
  • EduMusic

    Great reading. Do ou know El Bicho? It's one of the best flamenco fusion band of Spain. Flamenco, jazz, funk and progressive rock. Sounds really good. I arrive here by Michel Camilo conexion, I hope you'll enjoy that video [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXT07AnkYRE[/youtube] Its from a Fernando Trueba's movie called Calle 54, about latin jazz (and too jazz flamenco (great Chano Domínguez live included))

    23 mai 2007, 1h37m
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