The Paco de Lucia Project Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of First Solo Recording
For fifty years, the feverish and fierce art of flamenco guitar has spread like wildfire from Spain to points around the globe, ignited by the late Paco de Lucía. Honoring that legacy, Javier Limón, producer of Paco's later GRAMMY-winning albums, reassembles the original band that toured with Paco de Lucía in this tribute performance, The Paco de Lucía Project arriving at Valley Performing Arts Center (The Soraya) on Saturday, November 4 at 8:00pm.
"This season, more than any previous one, VPAC's Music Knows No Borders programming brings to Los Angeles artists from around the globe, artists who stand as proof that by shining a bright light on our differences, we affirm how much we have in common," said Thor Steingraber, VPAC Executive Director. "The Paco Lucia Project is the perfect season curtain raiser as flamenco music is the embodiment of the mixture and blending of cultures and communities creating its own individual sound that is celebrated world-wide."
"Music Knows No Borders is a fact," said Spanish composer and producer Javier Limon. "Music is the language of the world. As a musician you can speak with anyone from the first note without speaking a word. With flamenco, we now have artists from all over the world to help us create something extraordinary."
About The Paco de Lucía Project
The Paco de Lucía Project, created by Grammy-winning producer and composer Javier Limón, a longtime collaborator and friend of de Lucía, brings back together the group for a celebration of Paco and his legacy. Notably, this tour takes place on the 50th anniversary of the release of de Lucía´s first recording, aptly titled La Fabulosa Guitarra de Paco de Lucía (The Fabulous Guitar of Paco de Lucia) (1967)
In the early 1980s, guitarist and composer Paco de Lucía assembled a sextet that, in its instrumentation and jazz-like approach, would forever change the sound of flamenco. It would take the guitarist 20 years to put together another group that would provide him with both the support and push for his talent and his vision.
The nucleus of the band came together in 2004, at the recording of de Lucia´s Latin Grammy-winningCositas Buenas, (Good Little Things) and grew into a collection of exceptional young talent including his nephew, Antonio Sánchez on guitar; Alain Pérez on bass; Israel Suárez "Piraña," percussion; Antonio Serrano, harmonica; David de Jacoba, singer and Antonio Fernandez "Farruco" (a/k/a "Farru"), dancer.
With this group, Paco de Lucía (born Francisco Gustavo Sánchez Gomez) toured and performed for the next ten years. But de Lucía died unexpectedly of a heart attack in Mexico on February 25, 2014. He was 66. His passing seemed to also mark the end of his group. It did not.
"For us it's a tribute to a genius, a teacher, a partner in so many adventures and someone we loved very much," says de Lucía's nephew, Antonio Sánchez. "In this project each one of us contributes our part to celebrate Paco and his work. Serrano is such a brilliant harmonica player; Piraña is the best percussionist in the history of flamenco; Alain is a tremendous musician and composer and Farru and David Are great at what they do."
Sánchez, the son of Paco's older brother, also named Antonio Sánchez, started playing at a very young age under the watchful eye of his uncles, Paco de Lucía and Ramón de Algeciras, and his cousin J.M Bandera. Sánchez also studied with Juan Manuel Cañizares, another flamenco guitar and composition luminary. Antonio then worked with dance companies and in tablaos (flamenco clubs), most notably the popular tablao Cordobés de Barcelona and in 2010, joined his uncle as a second guitar, replacing then-budding flamenco star Niño Josele.
On stage, de Lucía gave his band "a lot of freedom," said Sánchez. "With his first sextet he had to create everything from zero, there were no models," he said. "The members of our band grew up listening to Paco, so we arrived with our homework done. The dynamic was different."
Perhaps mirroring MiLes Davis´s approach, who famously told his musicians he paid them "to rehearse on stage," de Lucía didn´t rehearse his band, recalled Sánchez. It was a strategy that created a creative tension, that "in performance, forced us to be more in-the-moment," he said. And after all, he noted, "the language of a group is not made of words but of listening, of paying attention and taking chances."
For this tour, the program will consists of de Lucía's jewels such as "Zyryab," "Canción de Amor," and "Entre dos Aguas," as well as original music by the members of the band.
"I take carrying on Paco's music with great humility. It's a great challenge," said Sánchez who, by carrying Paco´s family name and being the guitarist in the group, has the added burden of "playing Paco." "The name is a burden only if you don´t study, if you don´t apply yourself and work. I come from a very humble family. That doesn´t affect me. As a guitarist, it falls on me to present his work, but this project is by all of us. The important things here are the music and the group."
For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit ValleyPerformingArtsCenter.org or call (818) 677-3000. The media sponsor is KCET.
Photo: The Paco de Lucía Project Credit: Luis Mali