New Age Voice Magazine

NAV Magazine Cover Dec 2000

FLAMENCO Playing with Fire
by Robert Kaye

DEC 2000

The article, interviewed many artists regarding
"What makes music Flamenco".
Below are parts of Paco de Lucia and Miguel de la Bastide's interview.

In the 80's when de Lucia and few others such as Manuel Molina, Spanish rock group like Veneno and gypsy rockers Pata Negra began their hybrid experimentation, the traditionalists openly scoffed.  "Their feeling was, if you do something different, you're sacrilegious," he says.  "But I wanted, I needed to do something different.  I didn't agree with their thinking.  I had it very clear in my mind that if we still played and sang and danced the same way, the same of my father and the same of my grandfather, the music stands still.  It's as good as dead.  So I felt I had to do something new, to get the same spirit, because I'd grown up in the tradition, and knew it very well, but at the same time I had be free to create music that was contemporary.  And so one day I saw it very clearly, I thought, 'Okay, I now play for me. I play what I feel. I play what I think.' "

But unlike many jazz musicians who often weave their solos around a series of chord progressions, de Lucia says, "we don't have that kind of 'organized' improvisation.  In Flamenco it's different.  We know that we are in bulerías or siguiriyas or soleá ( the principle rhythmic and song structures within Flamenco).  But we have to communicate with each other to create in that moment what is happening, especially within the compás."  In so doing, de Lucia and others who have played with him - such as his brother Pepe, bassist Benavent, woodwind player Jorge Pardo, percussionists Tino de Geraldo and Rubem Dantas, and pianist Chano Dominguez - have gone on to influence numerous others who've added to their own fabric to Flamenco's richly woven tapestry.

For instance, regularly featured on several of Narada's compilations is the Toronto-based guitarist Miguel de la Bastide.  Born in Trinidad, after relocating to Canada when he was 18, de la Bastide later traveled to Spain on four separate occasions to further his studies.  His intensive exploration of and natural proclivity for Flamenco led him to perform with dance companies and theatres across North America and Europe.  He's also a recipient of the prestigious Chalmers Award and The Toronto Arts Council Award.  He recently self-produced his first solo album, El Cambio (LBCD 0001).

"Today, there's been a shift," de la Bastide feels.  "People in Spain generally don't think of it as Flamenco as old or new, but Flamenco of different generations.  My uncle's generation Flamenco is different to mine, because we're experiencing different lives.  It's supposed to be an expression of your own times."  As far as those traditionalists who scorned some of the early experimentation as with the incorporation of different instruments, de la Bastide counters, "They have to realize that also that the guitar was not originally in Flamenco either.  It only came into the picture a couple of centuries ago.  Originally it was cante, dance and percussion - whatever they could hit.  So (the traditionalist) can't really be dogmatic about what is or isn't Flamenco puro.

"What is Flamenco puro, in actually, is the contents, and how it is structured.  It's always in the arrangement of the piece.  And it really relates to the cante, even if it's an instrumental composition," he explains.  "You have to meet the structure of the particular palos - meaning the particular form that you're playing."

De la Bastide's complelling music is a masterful, evocative blend of both past and present, incorporating both traditional and newer instrumentation.  Similar to Paco de Lusic's Sextet, de la Bastide and his compatriots expertly traverse through different worlds, exploring, rediscovering and creating remarkable music in their travels.