These two videos capture what I love most about Flamenco: the visceral emotion, the interconnectedness of everyone involved (not just the performers) and the history that is passed on through every letra, every gesture of the hands and pick of the guitar strings. The artists in these clips are not performing Flamenco, they are Flamenco. Flamenco puro is able to move me like nothing else – it’s like, the very essence of my being reverberates and responds to the music. I know this may sound cheesy but it is completely true.
The first is of Lole Montoya and her mother La Negra singing for Spanish television. In the time soon after this recording was made, Lola would join up with her partner Manuel Molina to create some of the most exciting Flamenco of the 70s, a fusion of traditional Flamenco rooted in compas and flamenco puro and mixed with Arabic and rock elements. Lole’s Arabic influences come from her youth spent living in North Africa with her Gitano family. The above video clip is one of the first documented forays into her Arabic influenced Flamenco, and I think it’s absolutely captivating. It is her voice that first pulled me into my journey of Flamenco discoveries and she remains one of my favorite cantaoras.
If there was a Flamenco heaven it would look a little like this clip. A room full of the best Flamenco artists joined together for a good-natured juerga. These people are my inspiration and the reason why I’ve devoted so much time and energy studying this art form. This little bit of celestial Flamenco could not be complete without Camaron de la Isla, one of the most innovative and talented Flamenco cantaores of this lifetime. Camaron is the one artist that can actually transmit duende through recordings (duende is an overused term to describe the extra sensory feelings that can be transmitted through Flamenco). What’s more intriguing about this clip is the amorous tension between Carmelilla Montoya (the dancer) and Camaron. The way she smiles, the way he smiles…ay!
A special treat: This tune, Sangre Gitana y Morena by Lole y Manuel uses some of the same Arabic letras taught to Lole by her mother in the clip above.