Writings and essays about flamenco

Category — Important Flamenco Documentary Material

“Rito y Geografía del Flamenco” — Notes on the 1996 first commercial release

The following describes the great flamenco documentary series “Rito y Geografía de Flamenco” when most of the films were released in a commercial videocassette version by Alga Editores in Spain in 1996. It was a poor version — the images were often fuzzy, and an accompanying hardcover book used many of those images with weak text. A quarter of the original 100 programs were not included. A later release on DVD’s was far superior, with exellent images and excellent booklets of additional commentary by the key man on the project, José María Velásquez and English subtitles — though that version, too, omitted a batch of programs, most relatively weak but some quite good. (Five years earlier, I had managed to rescue and purchase the first copies of these and other films from the series; I had hoped this first commercial version from Alga would add valuable documentation and sharper images, but no such luck.

Here’s that earlier description, headlined “A Collection of Incunables” — while it logically means “indispensables” or somesuch, I can’t find a fitting translation — maybe the word exists in English as well, but I’ve never heard it:

“A collection of ‘incunables’ in images that depict unforgettable scenes of flamenco song, showing the greatest artists of the past and the present. 26 videocassettes (VHS) with more than 38 hours of material and a sumptuous book of 272 pages containing more than 100 photographs of the people and places appearing in the series, with text by eminent present-day flamencologists, historians, anthropologists and musicians.

Enjoy the experience of these unrepeatable images of the great masters, many of them now gone, both professional and aficionados, who knew how to maintain the purest essences of flamenco cante: See Antonio Mairena, Caracol, Beni de Cadiz, Pericon de Cadiz, Pepe de la Matrona, Joselero de Moron, El Gallina (Rafael Romero), El Perrate, La Piriñaca, El Borrico, Pepe Marchena, Camarón, etc.

“Rito y Geografia del Cante” was created between March of 1971 and October of 1973. 100 programs were made and shown. The team visited 28 locales in Andalucia, Salamanca, Barcelona, Extremadura, Toledo, Murcia and Portugal. They filmed 186 singers, 13 folklore groups, 47 guitarists, 313 palmeros (supporting hand-clappers), dancers and aficionados. There are 117 interviews and get-togethers with flamencologists, musicians, historians, anthropologists and noted aficionados. We are pleased to present the fruit of this search and investigation.”

This was followed by two brief descriptive essays which I’m translating (from a crummy fax, so my general ignorance is occasionally compounded by illegibility):

1. “Criteria for this Edition of Rito y Geografia del Cante.”

“Today, 25 years after the initial broadcasts by Television Espanola of the ‘Rito y Geografia del Cante’ series, some things remain the same in the world of flamenco while others have changed. The best of the new developments is perhaps the wide promulgation of flamenco — a notion touched upon in the programs, and now confirmed to an astonishing degree. The worst, at least from the orthodox point of view, and from the standpoint of the splendid “oldness” (vejez) that distinguishes the series, may be certain present-day mixings and fusions (mestizajes) that don’t make much sense.

Since the films were made, we have seen the disappearance of Camarón, who in the series represented a new and unorthodox approach to the cante; and we’ve seen Enrique Morente — who is asked where he thinks the modernizing movement might take flamenco — do a recent recording of poems by Leonard Cohen while joined by a rock group, without abandoning flamenco. José Menese, another young renovationist of that earlier time, has remained faithful to the roots (“Firme me mantengo” — “I stand firm”, as one of his songs says), and it is through him that we know the political verses of his mentor José Moreno Galván, with their strong social content, which were so avidly listened to during Spain’s transition to democracy.

This documentary series, despite the subsequent appearance of new interpreters and the loss of a large part of those who are shown, or despite the evolution of some of these depicted artists to enter the realm of “new flamenco”, has not aged a bit. On the contrary, like fine wine, it has turned into something special, almost venerable — a relic, an “incunable” (priceless document? Unique object? The word “incunabula” refers to manuscripts created before the age of moveable type…)

Nonetheless, in the intervening time, some of the interpreters originally included, either because they were valued more highly than warranted or because they played a particular role in the original criteria for selection, have been eliminated, since their art would not say very much to a young aficionado today. Those eliminated are not mythical singers of the past, nor have they confirmed themselves as myths of today as did Morente, Camarón or Menese. Nor are they fundamental representatives of a particular geographic or family school of flamenco. Their inclusion would only have expanded this edition unneccessarily, and perhaps disoriented the new aficionado.

2. “A Collection of ‘Incunables’”

“Rito y Geografia del Cante”, broadcast by TVE between 1971 and 1973, is considered by all specialists, and is recognized in the histories of flamenco, as the finest program ever produced for television. In a run covering approximately two years, under the direction of Mario Gómez and with the collaboration and evaluative judgments of the most prestigious flamencologists, the weekly series travelled all of flamenco territory, including the very guts of Andalucia where, over the years, this art — local and universal at the same time — was developed.

The series offered testimony from old singers, many of them anonymous, others celebrated. It was a true blessing, because it was launched at a time when the great flamenco neighborhoods or breeding areas (Triana, Cadiz, Jerez and its Barrio de Santiago) were starting to lose their traditional and Gypsy ways of life due to the changes Spain had started to see in the 1960′s, and due to the influence of new communcations media, changing customs, etc. These documentaries, then, arrived in time to miraculously save the memory of a life already in large part irrevocably lost.

The filming, always guided by intelligent curiosity and by the commentary of José María Velásquez, or through the introduction of expert specialists, traversed all the last locales in which flamenco was being “made”: taverns, family homes, colmaos, and ventas. And it collected the final artistic testimonies of many singers who would be dead shortly afterward — in some cases, even before their particular programs were aired. That was the case with Juan Talega and Manolo Caracol, among others.

But today, 25 years after their broadcast, a large number of those protagonists are no longer with us. We can no longer capture the image of Tia Anica La Piriñaca, El Beni de Cadiz, Diego el del Gastor, Antonio Piñana (padre), Eleuterio — to name just some of those who are gone, but leave their myths behind, and whose images return to us now in these videos, as they sing or speak of their cante.

Thus it is possible today to see Antonio Mairena dancing por bulerias; or Tía Anica giving her advice to some youngsters (who were none other than Manuel Sordera and “that ‘Camirón’, or whatever he’s called…”); or to see Juan Talega in a fight to the death with the form called the toná, perhaps the last one he would sing in his lifetime; or Tomás Torre, speaking about his father Manuel; or Fernanda and Bernarda de Utrera in a fiesta at home, or praying to the Virgin; or the Perrates, uncle and mother of Juan El Lebrijano.

And, also, a young and “parlanchin” (?) Camarón de la Isla; young José Menese in his home town of La Puebla de Cazalla or getting his professional start in Madrid; and a five-year-old La Macanita, singing and dancing for Paula; and Remedios Amaya, barely an adolescent at the time. And, too, monographic (single-topic) episodes dedicated to major thematic issues, such as the relation of Falla and Lorca to flamenco; or the festivales; or women in the realm of cante; or the guitar; or the role of the Gypsies within the art; etc.

With this series, you are presented with a true collection of “incunables” — a true history of images of the old and pure (rancia) mystery of flamenco. The films reveal a history that can never be repeated, and that today is lost forever.

Paco González
Editor

End of material on the series.

I think the general descriptions are pretty good, and while I’d argue about the omission of any material, I think the Alga folks made a defensible choice — some of the omitted programs were very weak, and seemed like filler.

(As for the alleged artist called Eleuterio — never heard of the guy, and would bet he never existed, at least by that name.)

Brook Zern

March 1, 2017   No Comments

Rito y Geografía del Flamenco – A list of 100 programs in order of broadcast – Oct. 23, 1971 to Oct. 29, 1973 – including some 20 never-available shows that may come to light

The nearly 100 programs from the now legendary series “Rito y Geografía del Flamenco” were broadcast on Television Española’s Second Channel (for the region of Andalusia) over two years beginning in October of 1971. (I saw at least one — the remarkable show on Agujetas — being broadcast in Madrid, possibly on the First or main channel.)

As of today, about eighty of them have been released in the three commercial versions of the series and can be seen on YouTube. (A compilation of those programs appears on this website in alphabetical order at: http://www.flamencoexperience.com/blog/?p=1621 — just click on the extracted photograph from any program and you enter another, vanished world.)

Note: Between 1972 and 1987, I was trying to assure the preservation of the programs in this series, and acquire a copy if possible. At one point I received the computerized list of titles and original broadcast dates you’ll see below. It includes about 20 programs that apparently were not included in any of the three commercial editions — including the latest and best commercial version of the series (on shiny DVD’s, each with four of the half-hour programs with enhanced picture and sound, bound into elegant hardcover booklets giving extensive information about the artists and song forms in each program.)

I have nearly all of those missing programs among the (unimproved) videotapes I was finally allowed to buy in 1987 (after paying the agreed-upon price plus the conversion costs from film to video). I hope to make them viewable on YouTube in the months to come. (Note — If any of those programs can currently be seen on YouTube. please let me know.)

Here’s the rundown, in alphabetical order with running times and the arbitrary number of the 1987 cassette as they were received:

ANTONIO DE CANILLAS – 27:20 – 87/19/C
CANTE FLAMENCO [CON INTERPRETES GITANOS] – 24:25 – 87/22/C
CANTE GITANO [CON INTERPRETES GITANOS] – 27:59 – 87/21/C
ENCARNACION LA SALLAGO – 25:20 – 87/17C
FANDANGO – 27:00 – 87/3/C
FESTIVAL DEL CANTE – 26;30 – 87/11/C
LA MARRURRA [MOREEN CARNES] – 28:41 – 87/23/C
JOSELERO DE MORON – 30:20 – 87/18/C
LOS FLAMENCOLOGOS – 28;00 – 87/16/C
LUIS CABALLERO – 34:40 – 87/13/C
PANSEQUITO – 29:35 – 87/23/C
PERICON DE CADIZ – 28:36 – 87/21/C
PERRATE DE UTRERA – 30:20 – 87/13/C
POR SIGUIRIYAS – 26:00 – 87/9/C
POR SOLEA – 24:00 – 87/9/C
CANTE FLAMENCO Note: This may not be missing – it may be the same as the above-mentioned CANTE FLAMENCO GITANO (with English subtitles) — The program evidently features Gypsy singers performing songs that are not seen as Gypsy songs, and may have been also been titled CANTE FLAMENCO CON INTERPRETES GITANOS.

Note: The 100th and final program was evidently titled “Rito y Geografía del Flamenco”, like the series itself. It could be one of the above programs, or a compilation of highlights from the series, possibly running longer than the usual programs, in which case I don’t have it.

NOTE: Program 41 — SABICAS (790814) [720814] (26:20) 14 AUG 79 [72] PP03847 — probably was not broadcast and may never have been completed.

Note: The program on guitarist Diego del Gastor was rebroadcast (with one change) to commemorate his death. Such rebroadcasting may have happened following the deaths of other artists during the two-year run, sometimes possibly indicated by weeks with no broadcast listed.

Here’s the original list. The Spanish heading says that original format of these programs in TVE’s archives [filmoteca] was 16 millimeter film (or laboratory negatives of 16 millimeter film), with a separate magnetic sound track (as opposed to optical sound, which I think is inferior).

RITO Y GEOGRAFIA [FROM RTVE COMPUTER RUN, IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER]
16 MM BN SEPMAG, LAB NEG EN FILMOTECA TVE

1. LAS TONAS (711023) (30:50) 23 OCT 71 PP03857
2. ROMANCES, TANGOS Y TIENTOS (711030) (33:30) 30 OCT 71 PP03858
3. SEGUIRIYAS 1 PARTE (711106) (32:55) 6 NOV 71 PP03859
4. SEGUIRIYAS 2 PARTE (711113) (28:40) 13 NOV 71 PP03860
5. CADIZ Y LOS PUERTOS (711120) (32:40) 20 NOV 71 PP03861
6. SOLEARES 1 PARTE (711127) (31:55) 27 NOV 71 PPO3862
7. SOLEARES 2 PARTE (711204) (30:55) 4 DEC 71 PP03863
8. EL FANDANGO (711211) (26:15) 11 DEC 71 PP03864
9. DE RONDA A MALAGA (711218) (28:50) 18 DEC 71 PP03865
10. NAVIDAD FLAMENCA (711225) 25 DEC 71 PP03866
11. MALAGUENAS (720101) 1 JAN 72 PP03867
12. DE GRANADA A LA UNION (720108) 8 JAN 72 PP03868
13. CANTES PROCEDENTES DEL FOLKLORE (720122) (26:20) 15 JAN 72 PP03869
14. FIESTA GITANA (720129) (33:15) 29 JAN 72 PP03870
15. LAS TONAS [2] (720205) (31:15) 5 FEB 72 PPO3871
16. LA LLAVE DE ORO DEL CANTE (720212) 12 FEB 72 PP03872
17. TRIANA (720219) (29:25) 19 FEB 72 PP03873
18. EL BARRIO DE SANTIAGO (720226) (25:50) 26 FEB 72 PP03874
19. LA FAMILIA PININI (720304) (31:15) 4 MAR 72 PP03875
20. LA FAMILIA DE LOS PERRATE (720311) (22:45) 11 MAR 72 PP03876
21. LA CASA DE LOS MAIRENA (720312) (31:50) 18 MAR 72 PP03877
22. MANUEL TORRE Y ANTONIO CHACON (720325) (30:10) 25 MAR 72 PP03878
23. LA SAETA (720401) (27:10) 1 APR 72 PP03879
24. LA CA[N]TAORA (720410) (26:05) 10* APR 72 PP03880
25. LA GUITARRA (720317) (27:05) 17 MAR [APR] 72 PP03881
26. VIEJOS CANTAORES (720424) (24:20) 24 APR 72 PP03832*
27. CANTE FLAMENCO INTERPRETES GITANOS] (720501) (26:25) 1 MAY 72 PP03833
28. DEL CAFE CANTANTE AL TABLAO (720508) (25:50) 8 MAY 72 PP03834
29. CANTE GITANO CON INTERPRETES GITANOS (720515) (28:30) 15 MAY 72 PP03835
30. LA GUITARRA FLAMENCA (2-PARTE) (720522) (27:35) 22 MAY 72 PP03836
31. FESTIVAL DEL CANTE (720529) (28:00) 29 MAY 72 PP03837
32. EVOLUCION DEL CANTE (720605) (28:30) 5 JUN 72 PP03838
33. FANDANGO DE HUELVA (720612) (25:00) 12 JUN 72 PP03839
34. MALAGA Y LEVANTE (720619) (27:35) 19 JUN 72 PP03840
35. FALLA Y FLAMENCO (720626) (26:05) 26 JUN 72 PP03841
36. LA SERRANIA (720703) (29:15) 3 JUL 72 PP03842
37. FANDANGOS NATURALES (720710) 10 JUL 72 PP03843
38. POR SOLEA (26:00) (720717) 17 JUL 72 PP03844
39. POR SEGUIRIYAS (27:55) (720724) 24 JUL 22 PP03845
40. FIESTA GITANA – BULERIAS (720807) (29:05) 7* AUG 72 PP03846
41. SABICAS (790814) [720814] (26:20) 14 AUG 79 [72] PP03847
42. MARIA VARGAS (720821) (26:00) 21 AUG 72 PP03848
43. FIESTA GITANA – TANGOS (720831) (22:06) 31* AUG 72 PP03849
44. JUAN PENA EL LEBRIJANO (720911) (31:00) 11 SEP 72 PP03850
45. AGUJETAS (720918) (34:25) 18 SEP 72 PP03851
46. JOSE MENESES (720925) (31:30) 25 SEP 72 PP03852
47. LA PERLA DE CADIZ (721002) (33:05) 2 OCT 72 PP03853
48. FERNANDO TERREMOTO (721009) (32:45) 9 OCT 72 PP03854
49. LUIS CABALLERO (721016) (26:00) 16 OCT 72 PP03855
50. DIEGO DEL GASTOR (721023) (31:45) 25 OCT 72 PP03855
51. CRISTOBALINA SUAREZ (721106) (30:40) 6 NOV 72* PP03807*
52. FOSFORITO (721113) (26:30) 13 NOV 72 PP03808
53. MANOLO CARACOL (1-PARTE) (721120) 20 NOV 72 PP03809
54. MANOLO CARACOL (2-PARTE) (721127) 27 NOV 72 PP03810
55. CHOCOLATE (721204) (29:10) 4 DEC 72 PP03811
56. BENI DE CADIZ (721211) (26:00) 11 DEC 72 PP03812
57. OLIVER DE TRIANA (721218) (30:10) 18 DEC 72 PP03813
58. AMOS RODRIGUEZ (721225) (26:30) 25 DEC 72 PP03814
59. PERRATE DE UTRERA (730101) (30:40) 1 JAN 73 PP03815
60. PEDRO LAVADO (730108) (26:55) 8 JAN 73 PP03816
61. PLATERO DE ALCALA (730115) (28:20) 15 JAN 73 PP03817
62. EL BORRICO (730122) (32:30) 22 JAN 73 PP03818
63. MELCHOR DE MARCHENA (730129) (29:40) 29 JAN 73 PP03819
64. FERNANDA DE UTRERA (730205) (34:30) 5 FEB 73 PP03820
65. BERNARDA DE UTRERA (730212) (30:45) 12 FEB 73 PP03821
66. ANTONIO DE CANILLAS (730219) (28:20) 19 FEB 73 PP03822
67. ENRIQUE MORENTE (730305) (28:00) 5 MAR 73* PP03823
68. JOSELERO DE MORON (730312) (30:20) 12 MAR 73 PP03824
69. MANUEL SOTO SORDERA (730319) (25:00) 19 MAR 73 PP03825
70. RAFAEL ROMERO (730326) (29:30) 26 MAR 73 PP03826
71. DIEGO CLAVEL (730402) (28:20) 2 APR 73 PP03827
72. ENCARNACION DE SALLAGO (730409) 9 APR 73 PP03828
73. LA SAETA (730416) (29:35) 16 APR 73 PP03829
74. CAMARON DE LA ISLA (730423) 23 APR 73 PP03830
75. EL PALI (730430) (30:20) 30 APR 73 PP03831
76. MANUEL RODRIGUEZ – PIES DE PLOMO (730507) (30:35) 7 MAY 73 PP03782*
77. LA PAQUERA DE JEREZ (730514) (30:55) 14 MAY 73 PP03783
78. PACO DE LUCIA (730521) (32:15) 21 MAY 74 PP03784
79. PERICON DE CADIZ (730528) (28:55) 28 MAY 74 PP03785
80. TIA UNICA [ANICA] LA PIRINACA (730604) (31:15) 11 JUN 73 PP03786
81. PANSEQUITO (730611) (30:30) 11 JUN 73 PPO3787
82. PEPE EL DE LA MATRONA (730618) (31:45) 18 JUN 73 PP03788
83. LA PERRATA (730625) (29:45) 25 JUN 73 PP03789
84. ANTONIO MAIRENA (730702) (38:10) 2 JUL 73 PP03790
85. MARIA LA MARRORRA [MARRURRA] (730716) (30:45) 16 JUL 73* PP03791
86. PEPE MARTINEZ (730723) (32:55) 23 JUL 73 PP03792
87. PEPE MARCHENA (730730) (32:50) 30 JUL 73 PP03793
88. LOS TORRE (730806) (26:05) 6 AUG 73 PP03794
89. CANTOS [CANTES] PRIMITIVOS SIN GUITARRA (730813) (30:10) 13 AUG 73 PP03795
90. DE SANLUCAR A LA LINEA (730820) (25:00) 20 AUG 73 PP03796
91. CANTES FLAMENCOS IMPORTADOS (730827) (27:40) 27 AUG 73 PP03797
92. EXTREMADURA Y PORTUGAL (730903) (29:15) 3 SEP 73 PP03798
93. LOS CABALES (730910) (30:55) 10 SEP 73 PP03799
94. DE DESPENAPERROS HASTA ARRIBA (730917) (27:15) 17 SEP 73 PP03800
95. LORCA Y EL FLAMENCO (730924) (26:40) 24 SEP 73 PP03801
96. DIFUSION DEL FLAMENCO (731001) (30:35) 1 OCT 73 PP03802
97. EL VINO Y EL FLAMENCO (731008) (35:15) 8 OCT 73 PP03803
98. LOS FLAMENCOLOGOS (731015) (28:35) 15 OCT 73 PP03804
99. NINOS CANTAORES (731022) (28:30) 22 OCT 73 PP03805
100. RITO Y GEOGRAFIA DEL CANTE Y EL FLAMENCO (731029) 29 OCT 73 PP03806

End of list.

Note: At one point in 1975 I was allowed to purchase three of the programs on 16 millimeter film but with optical soundtrack. Then the door slammed — I was abruptly told that I couldn’t buy any more, and it had been an error to send me the first three. I was dismayed — and relieved, since they cost about five hundred bucks apiece, the equivalent of at least five grand today, and I couldn’t have bought many more regardless. But I had three programs, and at last I could show people what “real” flamenco looked and sounded like in its social context. The programs: The legendary singer Fernanda de Utrera, her sister, the wonderful Bernarda de Utrera, and the guitarist Diego del Gastor. And a curiosity: The film of Diego del Gastor shows him mostly playing solos, and accompanying just one artist — the terrific dancer/singer Miguel Funi who’s still alive and kicking. But when I finally managed to buy the first videocassette version of the programs, Diego was shown accompanying his beloved brother-in-law, Luís Torres “Joselero”. Why? I finally figured it out. The first version was shown before Diego’s death in the summer of 1973 — though it doesn’t appear on the list below. The second version was subsequently shown to commemorate the recent death of Diego, and someone evidently decided it would be more appropriate to redo the segment to include his true compañero, Joselero. A nice touch indeed. Diego was one of just four guitarists given their own episodes; two other episodes are devoted to the instrument and feature various guitarists.

And finally: Once again, I urge aficionados to seek the DVD version on the internet where many of the booklets can be found and purchased.

Brook Zern — brookzern@gmail.com

March 30, 2015   1 Comment

A revised version of the programs in the “Rito y Geografía del Flamenco” film series with images from the 86 currently viewable on YouTube

BELOW IS AN UPDATED COMPILATION OF 96 EPISODES OF THE “RITO Y GEOGRAFIA DEL FLAMENCO” SPANISH TELEVISION SERIES BROADCAST BETWEEN OCTOBER 1971 AND OCTOBER 1973. THE 86 VIEWABLE EPISODES ARE EACH IDENTIFIED BY A SCREEN SHOT FROM THE SHOW, AT THE TOP OF WHICH IS SEEN THE NAME OF THE PROGRAM (IT ALSO APPEARS IN TINY PRINT ABOVE THE SCREENSHOT). TEN OTHER SHOWS THAT AREN’T YET VIEWABLE ON YOUTUBE ARE LISTED AFTER THE SCREENSHOTS. IT IS LIKELY THAT THREE MORE EXISTING EPISODES ARE NOT NAMED HERE.

IT’S OFTEN SAID THAT 100 OF THESE HALF-HOUR BLACK-AND-WHITE PROGRAMS WERE MADE, THOUGH AT LEAST ONE — ON THE GUITARIST SABICAS — DOESN’T EXIST AND MAY NEVER HAVE EXISTED.

THE FIRST GROUP INCLUDES 70 WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES. THE SECOND GROUP INCLUDES 16 IN A SPANISH-ONLY VERSION. EACH GROUP IS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER.

TEN OTHER KNOWN PROGRAMS ARE NOT YET VIEWABLE ON YOUTUBE. (THAT LIST APPEARS AFTER THE IMAGES, ALSO IN THAT TINY PRINT). THE LOCATION OF MOST ARE KNOWN AND EFFORTS ARE UNDERWAY TO MAKE THEM AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE,

BEYOND THOSE 96 PROGRAMS, IT IS LIKELY THAT ONLY THREE MORE EXIST FOR A TOTAL OF 99 PROGRAMS. THE NAMES OF THOSE THREE PROGRAMS ARE BEING SOUGHT.

(NOTE: THE ALPHABETICAL ORDER USED HERE CAN MAKE IT MUCH EASIER TO DETERMINE WHICH PROGRAMS MAY BE MISSING FROM OTHER LISTINGS.)

“RITO Y GEOGRAFIA DEL CANTE FLAMENCO” (TO USE ITS FULL NAME) IS STILL THE GREATEST FLAMENCO DOCUMENTARY EVER MADE, AND IT WILL PROBABLY REMAIN SO. IT WAS COMPLETED JUST BEFORE FLAMENCO BEGAN TO UNDERGO A PERMANENT TRANSFORMATION, THANKS TO THE ENORMOUS INFLUENCE OF THE REVOLUTIONARY FIGURES OF THE SINGER CAMARON DE LA ISLA AND THE GUITARIST PACO DE LUCIA (BOTH FEATURED IN THEIR OWN EPISODES).

THE ENTIRE SERIES WAS FILMED IN THE FIELD — IN BARS AND TAVERNS, IN ARTISTS’ HOMES, IN PRIVATE REUNIONS CALLED JUERGAS OR FIESTAS, AND YES, IN FIELDS. IT SHOWS THE ART AND THE ARTISTS WITHIN THEIR REAL-LIFE SOCIAL CONTEXT, SOME PERFORMERS AT THEIR DAY JOBS, SOME JUST TALKING WITH FRIENDS.

(THE FABULOUS SINGER LA PAQUERA, FOR EXAMPLE, ARRIVES IN HER NATIVE JEREZ IN A STUNNING WHITE FUR COAT; THE TEMPERATURE IS ABOUT A HUNDRED IN THE SHADE, BUT SHE THINKS IT SHOULD BE SEEN.)

THE PROGRAMS REVEAL A VANISHED SOCIETY, STILL IN THE DEPTHS OF A DYING DICTATORSHIP, STILL ALMOST MEDIEVAL IN ITS POVERTY AND SOCIAL STRUCTURE.

THE GENIUS BEHIND THE FILM TEAM WAS JOSE MARIA VELAZQUEZ GAZTELU, WHO DOES MOST OF THE NARRATION AND ARTIST INTERVIEWS.

STARTING IN 1972, I SPENT FIFTEEN YEARS BEGGING AND BRIBING PEOPLE TO TRY TO ENSURE THE PRESERVATION OF THESE PROGRAMS. (FOR THE FIRST TEN YEARS, NOBODY ELSE SEEMED INTERESTED. FOR THE LAST FIVE YEARS, I WAS TOLD THAT THE MATERIAL WAS SO IMPORTANT THAT NO ONE COULD EVER OBTAIN COPIES.)

IN 1987, I WAS FINALLY ALLOWED TO BUY THE FIRST SET OF COPIES AND PAY THE DAUNTING BILL FOR THE INITIAL RESTORATION. (I DECLINED THE OFFERED RIGHTS TO PROFIT FROM A COMMERCIAL EDITION, WHICH REVERTED TO THE RIGHTFUL CREATIVE PEOPLE.) IN THE MID-NINETIES, A POOR-QUALITY VIDEOCASSETTE EDITION OF MOST OF THE PROGRAMS WAS ISSUED BY ALGA EDITORES IN SPAIN. A BETTER EDITION FOLLOWED FROM SPANISH TELEVISION.

BUT IN 2005, SENOR VELAZQUEZ CREATED AND NARRATED A BEAUTIFULLY RESTORED VERSION WITH THE CD’S CONTAINED IN INFORMATIVE SPANISH-LANGUAGE HARDCOVER BOOKLETS. IT INCLUDED THE GREAT MAJORITY OF THE PROGRAMS, AND FEATURED ENGLISH-LANGUAGE SUBTITLES FOR MANY OF THE EPISODES. (THOSE VERSIONS ARE LISTED PREFERENTIALLY HERE; SPANISH-ONLY VERSIONS ARE LISTED ONLY WHEN THE ENGLISH VERSION IS NOT AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE. THE CD/BOOKLETS ARE BECOMING SCARCE IN SPAIN, AND MANY ARE NOT READILY AVAILABLE.)

I URGE ALL AFICIONADOS TO TRY AND PURCHASE ANY AVAILABLE CD/BOOKLETS — THE PRICES ARE VERY REASONABLE AND THE MATERIAL IS PRICELESS.

DETAILED INFORMATION ABOUT THE CONTENT OF MOST PROGRAMS WILL SOON BE AVAILABLE IN A SEPARATE BLOG ENTRY.

RITO Y GEOGRAFIA DEL FLAMENCO – A LIST OF THE PROGRAMS CURRENTLY VIEWABLE ON YOUTUBE (APRIL, 2015).

PART ONE: EPISODES WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES – [70 PROGRAMS]

Agujetas – Rito – English Subtitles

Amós Rodrígues Rey – Rito – English Subtitles

Antonio Mairena – Rito – English Subtitles

Beni de Cadiz – Rito – English Subtitles

Bernarda de Utrera – Rito – English Subtitles

Cádiz y los Puertos – Rito – English Subtitles

Camarón – Rito – English Subtitles

Cante Flamenco [i.e. Cante No Gitano] con Interpretes Gitanos [?]– Rito – English Subtitles

Cante Gitano con Interpretes No Gitanos [?]- English Subtitles [?]

Cantes Flamencos Importados – Rito – English Subtitles

Cantes Primitivos Sin Guitarra – Rito – English Subtitles

Cantes Procedentes del Folklore – Rito – English Subtitles

Cristobalina Suarez – Rito – English Subtitles

De Despeñaperros para Arriba – Rito – English Subtitles

De Granada a La Union – Rito – English Subtitles

De Ronda a Malaga – Rito – English Subtitles

De Sanlúcar a La Linea – Rito – English Subtitles

Diego del Gastor – Rito – English Subtitles

El Barrio de Santiaago – Rito – English Subtitles

El Chocolate – Rito –English Subtitles

El Lebrijano – Rito – English Subtitles

El Pali (Sevillanas) – Rito – English Subtitles

El Vino y El Flamenco – Rito – English Subtitles

Enrique Morente – Rito – English Subtitles

Evolución del Cante – Rito – English Subtitles

Extremadura y Portugal – Rito – English Subtitles

Fandangos – Rito – English Subtitles [?]

Fandangos de Huelva – Rito – English Subtitles

Fandangos Naturales – Rito – English Subtitles

Fernanda de Utrera – Rito – English Subtitles

Fiesta Gitana [Bulerias] – Rito – English Subtitles

Fiesta Gitana por Bulerias – Rito – English Subtitles

Fiesta Gitana por Tangos – Rito – English Subtitles

Fosforito – Rito – English Subtitles

José Menese – Rito – English Subtitles

La Cantaora – Rito – English Subtitles

La Casa de los Mairena – Rito – English Subtitles

La Familia Pinini – Rito – English Subtitles

La Familia de Los Perrate – Rito – English Subtitles

La Familia de los Torres – Rito – English Subtitles

La Guitarra Flamenca (1) – Rito – English

La Llave de Oro del Cante – Rito – English Subtitles

La Paquera de Jerez – Rito – English Subtitles

La Perrata – Rito – English Subtitles

La Saeta – Rito – English Subtitles

La Serrania – Rito – English Subtitles

Las Tonas – Rito – English Subtitles

Lorca y el Flamenco – Rito – English Subtitles

Málaga y Levante – Rito – English Subtitles

Malagueñas – Rito – English Subtitles

Manolo Caracol (I) – Rito –English Subtitles

Manolo Caracol (II) – Rito – English

Manuel Soto “Sordera” – Rito – English Subtitles

María Vargas – Rito – English Subtitles

Melchor de Marchena – Rito – English Subtitles

Navidad Flamenca – Rito – English Subtitles

Niños Cantaores – Rito – English Subtitles

Oliver de Triana – Rito – English Subtitles

Paco de Lucía – Rito – English Subtitles

Pedro Lavado – Rito – English Subtitles|

Pepe de la Matrona – Rito – English Subtitles

Platero de Alcalá – Rito – English Subtitles

Romances, Tangos y Tientos – Rito – English Subtitles

Siguiriyas I – Rito – English Subtitles

Siguiriyas II – Rito – English Subtitles

Soleares 2 – Rito – English Subtitles

Terremoto – Rito – English Subtitles

Tía Anica la Piriñaca – Rito – English Subtitles

Triana – Rito – English Subtitles

Viejos Cantaores – Rito – English Subtitles

PART TWO: EPISODES WITH NO ENGLISH VERSION ON YOUTUBE –
[SIXTEEN PROGRAMS]

Del café cantante al tablao – Rito – Spanish

Diego Clavel – Rito – Spanish

Difusión del Flamenco – Rito – Spanish

Falla y el Flamenco – Rito – Spanish

Joselero [de Morón] – Rito – Spanish
Part 1:

http://www.youtube.com/watcht=26&v=fXoaFc1mYJ4

[10:23]
Part 2:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pu YApYrLY&feature=youtu.be
[11:46]
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watchv=_drflGafmwo&feature=youtu.be
[7:31]
Part 4: – not given on YouTube
Part 5: http://www.youtube.com/watchv=RPxRJVauReM&feature=youtu.be
[19:49]
Note: Since the total time is nearly 50 minutes there must be some duplication between these segments.

Luís Caballero – Rito – Spanish [?]

La Guitarra Flamenca (2) – Rito – Spanish

Los Cabales [Aficionados] – Rito – Spanish

Manuel Torre y Antonio Chacón – Rito – Spanish

Pansequito -Rito – Spanish [?]

Pepe Marchena – Rito – Spanish

Perrate de Utrera – Rito – Spanish

Note: after 38:13 this version cuts to material from the show on Juan el Lebrijano or La Familia Perrate

Pepe Martínez – Rito – Spanish

Rafael Romero – Rito – Spanish

Soleares 1 – Rito – Spanish

Tío Borrico de Jerez – Rito – Spanish
(to 31’ 42” – after the original program ends, this version adds material by Tío Borrico from other programs in the same series)

TEN MISSING PROGRAMS:

ANTONIO DE CANILLAS – 27:20 – 87/19/C

CANTE FLAMENCO [CON INTERPRETES GITANOS] – 24:25 – 87/22/C

ENCARNACION LA SALLAGO – 25:20 – 87/17C

FESTIVAL DEL CANTE – 26;30 – 87/11/C

LA MARRURRA [MOREEN CARNES] – 28:41 – 87/23/C

JOSELERO DE MORON – 30:20 – 87/18/C [complete program]

LOS FLAMENCOLOGOS – 28;00 – 87/16/C

PERICON DE CADIZ – 28:36 – 87/21/C

POR SIGUIRIYAS – 26:00 – 87/9/C

POR SOLEA – 24:00 – 87/9/C

CANTE FLAMENCO Note: This may not be missing – it may be the same as the above-mentioned CANTE FLAMENCO GITANO (with English subtitles) — The program evidently features Gypsy singers performing songs that are not seen as Gypsy songs, and may have been also been titled CANTE FLAMENCO CON INTERPRETES GITANOS.

NOTE: THE 100TH AND FINAL PROGRAM WAS PROBABLY TITLED “RITO Y GEOGRAFIA DEL FLAMENCO.” IT MAY BE ONE OF THE ABOVE PROGRAMS. [A RUMORED PROGRAM ON SABICAS WAS PROBABLY NEVER MADE.]

SUMMING UP: THERE ARE SEVENTY PROGRAMS ON YOUTUBE WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES AND SIXTEEN PROGRAMS ON YOUTUBE IN SPANISH ONLY.
IN ADDITION, THERE ARE TEN PROGRAMS KNOWN TO BE ABSENT BUT PROBABLY AVAILABLE. THE TOTAL IS THUS 96 PROGRAMS, OUT OF THE 99 THAT WERE PROBABLY COMPLETED AND BROADWAY. THE THREE MISSING SHOWS NOT IN ANY OF THOSE CATEGORIES ARE BEING SOUGHT.

BROOK ZERN – APRIL 2015

March 28, 2015   No Comments

The Episodes of Rito y Geografia that can’t be seen on the internet — and a plan to remedy that situation

It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

Many of the 100 half-hour programs from the great Rito y Geografía del Flamenco documentary series (broadcast on RadioTelevison Española’s Second Channel for Andalusia between October of 1971 and October of 1973) were missing from the three commercial editions that were issued years later, and many of them can’t be seen on YouTube. Specifically, I have found __ of the programs on YouTube. __ can be seen with English translations, all from the last and best commercial edition that came in booklet form with a four-program DVD in each booklet, and with improved picture and sound. Another __ programs are seen in Spanish-only versions, some probably from that same edition, others from earlier commercial editions. I have listed those 78 programs with their links to YouTube at:

http://www.flamencoexperience.com/blog/?p=1334

That leaves __ programs currently unseeable. I have some of them, and hope to make them available on YouTube. Some of my copies are okay, while others are pretty bad. I hope someone has better copies and will put them up. If not, I’ll try to figure out the launch process myself.

Below is a list I made from a primitive computer printout that RadioTelevision Española sent me when I was negotiating to buy the first videocassette copy of the series in 1987.

Here are the __ otherwise missing programs that I have: 7 (SOLEARES 2); 8 (El FANDANGO); 27 (CANTE FLAMENCO E INTERPRETE GITANOS); 28 (DEL CAFÉ CANTANTE AL TABLAO); 29 (CANTE GITANO CON INTERPRETES NO GITANOS); 31 (FESTIVAL DEL CANTE); 38 (POR SOLEA); 39 (POR SIGUIRIYAS); 66 (ANTONIO DE CANILLAS); 68 (JOSELERO DE MORON); 72 (ENCARNACION LA SALLAGO); 79 (PERICON DE CADIZ); 85 (MARIA LA MARRURA); 98 (LOS FLAMENCOLOGOS).

I never received program 100 (RITO Y GEOGRAFIA DEL CANTE Y EL FLAMENCO) — possibly a one-hour wrap-up for the series. I also never received program 76 (MANUEL RODRIGUEZ – PIES DE PLOMO)

I’ve been told that program 41 (SABICAS) never ran and possibly was never made. That leaves perhaps just one or two programs that I can’t quite pin down.

Here’s that original list:

RITO Y GEOGRAFIA [FROM RTVE COMPUTER RUN, IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER]
16 MM BN SEPMAG, LAB NEG EN FILMOTECA TVE

1. LAS TONAS (711023) (30:50) 23 OCT 71 PP03857
2. ROMANCES, TANGOS Y TIENTOS (711030) (33:30) 30 OCT 71 PP03858
3. SEGUIRIYAS 1 PARTE (711106) (32:55) 6 NOV 71 PP03859
4. SEGUIRIYAS 2 PARTE (711113) (28:40) 13 NOV 71 PP03860
5. CADIZ Y LOS PUERTOS (711120) (32:40) 20 NOV 71 PP03861
6. SOLEARES 1 PARTE (711127) (31:55) 27 NOV 71 PPO3862
7. SOLEARES 2 PARTE (711204) (30:55) 4 DEC 71 PP03863
8. EL FANDANGO (711211) (26:15) 11 DEC 71 PP03864
9. DE RONDA A MALAGA (711218) (28:50) 18 DEC 71 PP03865
10. NAVIDAD FLAMENCA (711225) 25 DEC 71 PP03866
11. MALAGUENAS (720101) 1 JAN 72 PP03867
12. DE GRANADA A LA UNION (720108) 8 JAN 72 PP03868
13. CANTES PROCEDENTES DEL FOLKLORE (720122) (26:20) 15 JAN 72 PP03869
14. FIESTA GITANA (720129) (33:15) 29 JAN 72 PP03870
15. LAS TONAS [2] (720205) (31:15) 5 FEB 72 PPO3871
16. LA LLAVE DE ORO DEL CANTE (720212) 12 FEB 72 PP03872
17. TRIANA (720219) (29:25) 19 FEB 72 PP03873
18. EL BARRIO DE SANTIAGO (720226) (25:50) 26 FEB 72 PP03874
19. LA FAMILIA PININI (720304) (31:15) 4 MAR 72 PP03875
20. LA FAMILIA DE LOS PERRATE (720311) (22:45) 11 MAR 72 PP03876
21. LA CASA DE LOS MAIRENA (720312) (31:50) 18 MAR 72 PP03877
22. MANUEL TORRE Y ANTONIO CHACON (720325) (30:10) 25 MAR 72 PP03878
23. LA SAETA (720401) (27:10) 1 APR 72 PP03879
24. LA CA[N]TAORA (720410) (26:05) 10* APR 72 PP03880
25. LA GUITARRA (720317) (27:05) 17 MAR [APR] 72 PP03881
26. VIEJOS CANTAORES (720424) (24:20) 24 APR 72 PP03832*
27. CANTE FLAMENCO CON INTERPRETES GITANOS (720501) (26:25) 1 MAY 72 PP03833
28. DEL CAFE CANTANTE AL TABLAO (720508) (25:50) 8 MAY 72 PP03834
29. CANTE GITANO CON INTERPRETES GITANOS (720515) (28:30) 15 MAY 72 PP03835
30. LA GUITARRA FLAMENCA (2-PARTE) (720522) (27:35) 22 MAY 72 PP03836
31. FESTIVAL DEL CANTE (720529) (28:00) 29 MAY 72 PP03837
32. EVOLUCION DEL CANTE (720605) (28:30) 5 JUN 72 PP03838
33. FANDANGO DE HUELVA (720612) (25:00) 12 JUN 72 PP03839
34. MALAGA Y LEVANTE (720619) (27:35) 19 JUN 72 PP03840
35. FALLA Y FLAMENCO (720626) (26:05) 26 JUN 72 PP03841
36. LA SERRANIA (720703) (29:15) 3 JUL 72 PP03842
37. FANDANGOS NATURALES (720710) 10 JUL 72 PP03843
38. POR SOLEA (26:00) (720717) 17 JUL 72 PP03844
39. POR SEGUIRIYAS (27:55) (720724) 24 JUL 22 PP03845
40. FIESTA GITANA – BULERIAS (720807) (29:05) 7* AUG 72 PP03846
41. SABICAS (790814) [720814] (26:20) 14 AUG 79 [72] PP03847
42. MARIA VARGAS (720821) (26:00) 21 AUG 72 PP03848
43. FIESTA GITANA – TANGOS (720831) (22:06) 31* AUG 72 PP03849
44. JUAN PENA EL LEBRIJANO (720911) (31:00) 11 SEP 72 PP03850
45. AGUJETAS (720918) (34:25) 18 SEP 72 PP03851
46. JOSE MENESES (720925) (31:30) 25 SEP 72 PP03852
47. LA PERLA DE CADIZ (721002) (33:05) 2 OCT 72 PP03853
48. FERNANDO TERREMOTO (721009) (32:45) 9 OCT 72 PP03854
49. LUIS CABALLERO (721016) (26:00) 16 OCT 72 PP03855
50. DIEGO DEL GASTOR (721023) (31:45) 25 OCT 72 PP03855
51. CRISTOBALINA SUAREZ (721106) (30:40) 6 NOV 72* PP03807*
52. FOSFORITO (721113) (26:30) 13 NOV 72 PP03808
53. MANOLO CARACOL (1-PARTE) (721120) 20 NOV 72 PP03809
54. MANOLO CARACOL (2-PARTE) (721127) 27 NOV 72 PP03810
55. CHOCOLATE (721204) (29:10) 4 DEC 72 PP03811
56. BENI DE CADIZ (721211) (26:00) 11 DEC 72 PP03812
57. OLIVER DE TRIANA (721218) (30:10) 18 DEC 72 PP03813
58. AMOS RODRIGUEZ (721225) (26:30) 25 DEC 72 PP03814
59. PERRATE DE UTRERA (730101) (30:40) 1 JAN 73 PP03815
60. PEDRO LAVADO (730108) (26:55) 8 JAN 73 PP03816
61. PLATERO DE ALCALA (730115) (28:20) 15 JAN 73 PP03817
62. EL BORRICO (730122) (32:30) 22 JAN 73 PP03818
63. MELCHOR DE MARCHENA (730129) (29:40) 29 JAN 73 PP03819
64. FERNANDA DE UTRERA (730205) (34:30) 5 FEB 73 PP03820
65. BERNARDA DE UTRERA (730212) (30:45) 12 FEB 73 PP03821
66. ANTONIO DE CANILLAS (730219) (28:20) 19 FEB 73 PP03822
67. ENRIQUE MORENTE (730305) (28:00) 5 MAR 73* PP03823
68. JOSELERO DE MORON (730312) (30:20) 12 MAR 73 PP03824
69. MANUEL SOTO SORDERA (730319) (25:00) 19 MAR 73 PP03825
70. RAFAEL ROMERO (730326) (29:30) 26 MAR 73 PP03826
71. DIEGO CLAVEL (730402) (28:20) 2 APR 73 PP03827
72. ENCARNACION DE SALLAGO (730409) 9 APR 73 PP03828
73. LA SAETA (730416) (29:35) 16 APR 73 PP03829
74. CAMARON DE LA ISLA (730423) 23 APR 73 PP03830
75. EL PALI (730430) (30:20) 30 APR 73 PP03831
76. MANUEL RODRIGUEZ – PIES DE PLOMO (730507) (30:35) 7 MAY 73 PP03782*
77. LA PAQUERA DE JEREZ (730514) (30:55) 14 MAY 73 PP03783
78. PACO DE LUCIA (730521) (32:15) 21 MAY 74 PP03784
79. PERICON DE CADIZ (730528) (28:55) 28 MAY 74 PP03785
80. TIA UNICA [ANICA] LA PIRINACA (730604) (31:15) 11 JUN 73 PP03786
81. PANSEQUITO (730611) (30:30) 11 JUN 73 PPO3787
82. PEPE EL DE LA MATRONA (730618) (31:45) 18 JUN 73 PP03788
83. LA PERRATA (730625) (29:45) 25 JUN 73 PP03789
84. ANTONIO MAIRENA (730702) (38:10) 2 JUL 73 PP03790
85. MARIA LA MARRORRA [MARRURRA] (730716) (30:45) 16 JUL 73* PP03791
86. PEPE MARTINEZ (730723) (32:55) 23 JUL 73 PP03792
87. PEPE MARCHENA (730730) (32:50) 30 JUL 73 PP03793
88. LOS TORRE (730806) (26:05) 6 AUG 73 PP03794
89. CANTOS [CANTES] PRIMITIVOS SIN GUITARRA (730813) (30:10) 13 AUG 73 PP03795
90. DE SAN LUCAR A LA LINEA (730820) (25:00) 20 AUG 73 PP03796
91. CANTES FLAMENCOS IMPORTADOS (730827) (27:40) 27 AUG 73 PP03797
92. EXTREMADURA Y PORTUGAL (730903) (29:15) 3 SEP 73 PP03798
93. LOS CABALES (730910) (30:55) 10 SEP 73 PP03799
94. DE DESPENAPERROS HASTA ARRIBA (730917) (27:15) 17 SEP 73 PP03800
95. LORCA Y EL FLAMENCO (730924) (26:40) 24 SEP 73 PP03801
96. DIFUSION DEL FLAMENCO (731001) (30:35) 1 OCT 73 PP03802
97. EL VINO Y EL FLAMENCO (731008) (35:15) 8 OCT 73 PP03803
98. LOS FLAMENCOLOGOS (731015) (28:35) 15 OCT 73 PP03804
99. NINOS CANTAORES (731022) (28:30) 22 OCT 73 PP03805
100. RITO Y GEOGRAFIA DEL CANTE Y EL FLAMENCO (731029) 29 OCT 73 PP03806

March 26, 2015   No Comments

Manuel Agujetas leaves his soul in La Guarida del Angel – article by Juan Garrido in Diario de Jerez – translated with comments by Brook Zern (and a radio program about the event)

In the Diario de Jerez of March 2, Juan Garrido wrote:

Manuel Agujetas leaves his soul in La Guarida del Angel

A recital that lasted more than two hours. Styles of soleares and siguiriyas that are no longer heard. A Gypsy who is the exception to the rule.

The truths he possesses cannot be better transmitted. A true privilege for aficionados who came from around the world, from Japan, Barcelona, Huelva and Malaga.

Also those from here in Jerez, who trust him to reveal the most ancestral elements of flamenco culture. The authentic melismas of a past generation reverberate in his songs.

His rendition of the songs of Carapiera or Manuel Torre are chilling, but he is always himself. He isn’t compared to anyone else because his style is strictly his own. It’s unusual to see him in small venues like La Guarido del Angel, where one can appreciate the closeness with a strong man of such character.

The sensations generated were inexplicable, since only those who experienced them could understand it. Domingo Rubichi accompanied him superbly on guitar. Also on view was the dancing of his wife Kanako who revealed her love of true flamenco.

Never glancing at the clock, Agujetas took us into the world of the spoken fandango, unhurried, never rushed. He sipped some tea for his cough, and warmed up for the martinetes.

The aficionados shouted. “The day you’re not around, it’s all over, Manuel.” Then there were some saetas [religious flamenco songs] that you won’t hear, even in dreams, during Holy Week.

When it was over, we returned to reality. The reality of Agujetas as a singer is exceptional. A living soul who continues to head up the Olympus of the Gods of flamenco song. The living history of the cante of Jerez.

End of article. The original is at: http://www.diariodejerez.es/article/xixfestivaldejerez/1974283/manuel/agujetas/se/deja/alma/la/guarida/angel.html

Translator’s note:

What can you say about perfection? A few years ago, the savviest aficionado in Jerez, foreshadowing the cries of today’s crowds, told me “When Agujetas is gone, it’s all over.” Granted, he was a member of the Agujetas clan, as is the guitarist Domingo Rubichi who accompanied him for this show. But that doesn’t mean he was wrong.

I view Agujetas as a throwback to the era when giants walked the earth. You’ll find plenty of entries in this blog that try to sketch the essence of the man, starting with a 1976 article I wrote for the Village Voice. (As a person, it’s an understatement to call him problematic. A lot of people hate him, some for good reasons — he can leave damage in his wake. One recent rave review ended by urging people to boycott all of his appearances and recordings because his behavior and character fell so far short of acceptable.)

One of the many miracles of this man is that he’s still alive, never mind singing so well so far beyond his expected prime

In 1972, I began an obsessive fifteen-year effort to help ensure the preservation of the 100 programs in the now-fabled TV documentary series “Rito y Geografía del Cante Flamenco” — because I was sure that the greatest artists would not be around very long and it was crucial to have all those fabulous films (now happily free on YouTube by searching for “Flamenco” and “Rito” and the name of an artist or style). Agujetas was a particular focus of that struggle, and I was amazed that he was still around when I was finally allowed to repair and buy the films in 1987. I certainly never dreamed that he – virtually alone among the major protagonists — would be alive and kicking today, 43 years after the films were made.

The pendulum of flamenco preferences has swung away from artists we once viewed as purer, deeper and more authentic than their lesser colleagues.

Today, of course, scholars question the very meaning of words like “authentic” or “pure”.

Well, I can’t define purenography, but I know it when I hear it. Heck, I even believe in duende, whatever that is, and I know exactly when, a very few times for a very few minutes in a very good year, it shoves an icy knife into my back.

The songs we hear are a solea that is soon repeated, another solea, and a siguiriyas. Agujeteas is even older than I am, but boy, he can still summon up what an old time blues giant called the “hellhound on my trail.”

Agujetas’s 1972 program on Rito y Geografia is on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xx8IenwJABE

In addition, you can hear several songs from his recent recital by going to the following url and pressing the play button:

http://www.loscaminosdelcante.com/aula-de-flamenco-programa-manuel-agujetas-en-la-guarida-del-angel-jerez/

That url connects you to “Caminos del Cante”, the superb radio program that the Jerez flamenco (and sherry) expert José Maria Castaño has been presenting for many years. It covers all aspects of flamenco, though always from the Jerez perspective — in other words, leaning toward the increasingly unfashionable view that deep is better than shallow and that Gypsy — not as a genetic inheritance but as one way of approaching the problem of flamenco expression — is even better than its marvelous alternative. (It has been my occasional honor to be part of the weekly panel, where I try to get up the nerve to try and say something unstupid.)

Brook Zern

March 2, 2015   No Comments

Diego del Gastor’s Wedding Gig, 1935 – Yes, He Was a Pro at 28

It’s 1935. A nice local wedding is covered by the press – the major newspaper El Liberal of Seville – and as usual when budgets permitted, there was a flamenco fiesta for the guests.  The artists were a noted professional singer, a devoted aficionado who also sang, and a 27-year-old professional guitarist.  Here’s the writeup:

“After the religious ceremony, the guests went to the bride’s house to celebrate the happy event with an Andalusian fiesta, which displayed the powerful flamenco song of the very popular el Niño del Matadero and the simpático José Pérez Tormenta, accompanied on the guitar by the gitanísimo Diego Amaya.”

And so we see that Diego del Gastor, as a twenty-something, was a professional flamenco guitarist, though he would never seek the usual peripatetic career that office entailed, preferring instead to stay close to his adopted native town of Morón de la Frontera.

Diego del Gastor wasn’t seeking fame or fortune, but he wanted to be a professional guitarist, and so he became one.  And nor just a gitano one, but a gitanísimo one at that, if the newspapers are to be believed.  (And according to my literal-minded superiors in the flamencology racket, they always are.)

Four years later, of course, we now know that Diego was booked to accompany the very important singer Manuel Vallejo way up north somewhere — but it wasn’t the kind of professional work he wanted, and so that high-profile, high-velocity career ended before it began.

Brook Zern

February 4, 2014   1 Comment

17 Complete Programs from the Rito y Geografia del Cante Flamenco Series – Plus Today’s Most Important Radio Shows – Now At Your Fingertips.

I’ve been lucky to know and learn from two of the most knowledgeable authorities and most important figures in the fight to document great flamenco and disseminate crucial information about the art.

José María Velázquez-Gaztelu has for decades presented a great twice-a-week radio program on Spain’s national radio and television network, RTVE.  It can be heard on podcast recordings at http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/audios/nuestro-flamenco/

But Señor Velázquez-Gaztelu had another trick up his sleeve.  Around 1970, he was the key man and on-camera figurehead in the creation of 100 magnificent black-and-white half-hour TV programs of Rito y Geografia del Cante Flamenco that ran weekly for two years.

(Before I met him, I’d spent fifteen years trying and failing to get permission to pay RTVE to protect the films and make a first copy for the Ethnomusicology Department at Columbia University ; it was finally granted in 1987, and for about a decade I apparently had a monopoly on the series.  Then a poorly done and poorly documented commercial cassette version of most shows was released by Alga in Spain; and then, happily, Señor Velázquez-Gaztelu created a gorgeously restored DVD version containing 72 of the shows, each 4-program disc also featuring his newly added commentary and recollections with available English subtitles, and each bound into striking small books giving invaluable information about every cut.)

Yes, all flamenco aficionados have seen some random, confusing moments of often brilliant b&w performances from these programs scattered all over YouTube.  But the true greatness of the series derives from the integrity of the total package, including the scripting, interviews, location selections and establishing scenes that make every program an artistic whole – as well as a window into a vanished Spain just feeling the first breezes from what would soon become a hurricane of cultural, sociopolitical and musical change.)

In recent years that I spent largely in the flamenco epicenter of Jerez, I soon realized that José María Castaño, author of the definitive book “De Jerez y Sus Cantes”, was the go-to guy for flamenco info and insight.  His radio program, Los Caminos del Cante, is a treasury of great talk and great music, and his article on Jerez’s crucial Gypsy/flamenco families is translated in this blog.  (He lets me sit in on some panel discussions; my finest contribution, with momentary lapses, has been keeping my mouth shut and listening to a half-dozen genuine experts argue with each other.  Arguing, or listening to heated, rapid-fire arguments in the region’s mystifying Andalusian dialect, is the true key to flamenco knowledge – or it would be, if I could just understand half of what was being shouted.)

This dynamic documentarian duo comes together, at least virtually, in an article  written by Castaño and translated from the Jerez progam website, www.loscaminosdelcante.com  – which also includes his incisive articles and editorials signed with the program name,  Here it is:

The Rito y Geografía del Cante series is online on the website of RTVE

There is no doubt that this series is the most important ever done for television.  It inherited the mantle of the great Archivo del Cante Flamenco 3-record set created by the noted Jerez writer José Manuel Caballero Bonald.

Soon after those field recordings were made featuring a select group of emblematic artists, the decision was made to go out again, this time with TV cameras, to reveal a truly exceptional artistic generation.  From the singers Antonio Mairena to Manolo Caracol, through Terremoto and Fernanda de Utrera and the guitarist Diego del Gastor, plus a huge list of other artists – all were filmed for national television.

Heading the project were two great professionals, Pedro Turbica and José María Velázquez-Gaztelu who covered a large part of Andalusia’s geography to document an array of spoken and sung testimonies that remain an unequalled primary source and reference point.

The RTVE website has decided to let everyone enjoy every episode of the series, restored to an extraordinary audio and visual level of excellence.  It can be accessed by clicking on the following link:

http://www.rtve.es/television/rito-geografia-cante/

End of article

(Hey, looky the one guitarist named above from a cast that included every major player in Spain — the one we gringos are often unfairly accused of worshipping unduly.  Yes, it’s Diegod el Gastor.)

Again, while the article doesn’t spell it out, there are just 17 of the complete shows on the RTVE website — though they’re among the best.  The artists, in alphabetical order:  Camaron (accompanied by Paco Cepero, not the other Paco), Manolo Caracol (2 shows), Fosforito, Diego del Gastor, Juan el Lebrijano, Paco de Lucia, Antonio Mairena, Jose Menese, Enrique Morente, La Paquera, La Perla de Cadiz, Siguiriyas (2 shows), and Triana.  (An additional show made quite recently features Velázquez-Gaztelu talking about the series with the very knowledgeable José Manuel Gamboa.)

What?  Free is good, but you want more for your money?  Well, if you’re willing to shell out a few bucks per show, you’re in luck.  The excellent commercial version done by Señor Velázquez in 2005 initially had four beautiful slipcases each containing four books-with-DVD’s, each in turn containing four shows — 16 volumes containing 4 shows each equals, um, 64 shows, but two more DVD’s were issued recently — Volumes 17 and 18.  Those 8 additional programs mean a total of 72 of the 100 shows are out there somewhere (just google the series, and you’ll stumble on all of them loose or in groups.  (Hey, if I’ve got unrestored copies of all 100 shows, does that mean I still have a monopoly on the remaining 28 shows?)

Brook Zern

December 29, 2013   1 Comment