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Tomatito in San Francisco

Last week was a beautiful one for music.  The great Tomatito played the Palace of Fine Arts on Wednesday.  Presented by the Omni Foundation and Eddie Diaz's Flamenco Society of San Jose, the tour was dedicated to the memory of Paco de Lucia.  With his son Jose del Tomate on guitar, El Cristi on guitar, Moises Santiago on percussion, Kiki Cortinas and Simon Roman on vocals, and the stunning dancer Paloma Fantova, Tomatito led a sublime evening of flamenco.  Ten years younger than Paco, Tomatito was Camaron's guitarist for the last 18 years of the great singer's life.  Building on the entire history of the music, and Paco's revolutionary innovations, Tomatito has ensured that flamenco guitar will continue to grow and evolve.  Perhaps the "jazziest" of modern flamenco guitarists, he has recorded with George Benson and Chick Corea, and understands bebop phrasing.  And yet his rodenas and mineras invoke the ancient. Fantova elicited gasps from the audience striking her first pose, steeped in the tradtion, and yet incredibly fresh and modern.  And in the one falsetta he was allowed in the encore, Tomate unsured that there will be brilliant guitarists for the future.  A greta and noble artist, Tomatito has a lovely gentleness and calm about him as well.