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Carlos Saura's latest performance film, Flamenco Flamenco, is finally released in the US. Shot in 2010 at the Seville Expo '92 Pavillion by legendary cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (The Conformist / Apocalypse Now) Flamenco Flamenco is a sequel to Saura's 1995 Flamenco. Like flamenco itself, it is a dream, a poem, and all of reality. Almost all of the flamenco community is recorded; Vicente Amigo and El Viejin being perhaps glaring exceptions. Flamenco featured very simply filmed performances. Flamenco Flamenco is intentionally more theatrical; one scene has Eva Yerbabuena and Miguel Poveda performing on set in the rain. Every generation alive and performing today is included; from the stunning 14 year old dancer Manuel Fernandez "El Carpeta" to the octogenarian Maria Bala singing an unaccompanied solea. Manolo Sanlucar's alegria is amazing. Paco de Lucia plays a buleria por solea with La Tania singing for the second to last piece; and Moraito plays and even dances on the final buleria de Jerez, reminding us in an eerily beautiful way that we have lost two giants. All the dancing does flamenco justice. Sara Baras, with an alegria no less, will steal your heart.
Last Saturday Diego El Cigala performed at the SF Jazz Miner Auditorium. Perhaps the most gifted contemporary flamenco singer, he has experimented with salsa and Cuban music, winning a Grammy in 2003 for his collaboration with Bebo Valdes, and in 2005 for Picasso in Mis Ojos, with Paco de Lucia and Jerry Gonzalez. This performance featured electric guitar, piano, acoustic bass, and percussion. Elegant in white dinner jacket and tuxedo pants (the guitarist was in flannel shirt and jeans) Diego moved smoothly through a mostly salsa set. The band were obviously all originally flamenco musicians, and very at ease with the material. The electric guitarist in particular, Diego Garcia, played some traditional flamenco lines on the tangos (flamenco, not Argentine, although Diego has also explored that music). Piano and electric guitar don't have a fast enough decay to accompany the lightening response of a master flamenco singer, and as breathtakingly beautiful as his voice is - from a whisper to a scream in a nanosecond, I found myself longing for an acoustic flamenco guitar. A second acoustic guitar was listed in the program, so perhaps that was the original intent. A gifted producer, Diego recently released the debut of guitarist Diego del Morao, the son of the late great Moraito.
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