BWW Review: FLAMENCO MEETS JAZZ, Sadler's Wells
Sadler's Wells' annual Flamenco Festival is repeatedly one of the most exciting and flamboyant displays of the season, offering colourful, vibrant (often improvised) one-off performances.
Flamenco meets Jazz brings together three renowned musical artists who use elements from both genres to create a 90-minute tour-de-force, with charged assistance from former ballet star Jesùs Carmona.
Carmona is an enigmatic presence full of delicacy and balletic movement amongst charisma and warp-speed spins. A former Principal with Ballet Nacional de España, he went on to form his own company with the aim of showcasing the very best in Spanish culture and here interjects some flamenco flair into this jazz spectacular.
Flamenco pianist and composer David Dorantes is joined on stage by saxophonist Tim Ries and Adam Ben Ezra on double base, all widely regarded as masters in their fields. They're all fine performers who spark with spontaneity and rhythm, but Carmona's swaggering movements are hypnotic and command attention when on stage. However his appearances are sparing, featuring in only three numbers throughout the programme - though on this showing no one can blame him for leaving the audience wanting more.
The low-key staging would be better suited to an authentic jazz bar rather than the vast Sadler's Wells Theatre, but the unique evening still evokes a strong sense of intimacy and atmosphere. What becomes apparent over the course of the ten exuberant numbers is that we, the audience, are incidental bystanders - such is the fun this talented gang of showmen are having.
Rightly so, there are extended solos for each musician - Dorantes, Ezra and Ries. Ries memorably requires some audience participation in order to create a harmony to a mournful saxophone solo, and we're more than happy to hum along. There's a brief diversion to a reworking of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" from the full ensemble before Carmona returns to the stage for a final, climactic flourish.
Caravana De Los Zicalis is the most complete performance of the evening. Carmon's slow brooding (complete with rhinestoned jacket), a gentle pulsing of the hand and the plucking of the piano strings from Dorantes adds anticipation before an explosive array of balletic jumps and jetés amongst articulate foot-stamping and some virtuoso pirouettes and rollercoaster twist-turns that assert his authority over the stage.
Get swept away by the unique artistry of these musicians and Carmona's incomparable imperial manner - it makes for a sophisticated and compelling evening of flamenco.
Flamenco Festival London continues at Sadler's Wells until 14 July