The George Weston Recital Hall – October 17, 2019
The Paco de Lucía Project – Produced By Javier Limón
Billed as Flamenco Legends, The Paco de Lucía Project, made up of artists Antonio Sánchez on lead guitar, David de Jacoba on vocals, Alain Pérez on bass, Israel Suárez ‘Piraña’ on percussion, Antonio Serrano on harmonica and the multi-talented flamenco dancer, guitarist and vocalist, Antonio Fernández Montoya ‘Farruco’.
The concert opens with a solitary guitarist at centre stage, Antonio Sánchez, nephew and accompanist to the master, Paco de Lucía – playing a distinctly Flamenco pattern, fast finger strumming, a Tarantas type of melody. Antonio Serrano appears from stage right to a welcoming audience, he joins in on the tune, playing his chromatic harmonica, his sound, pleasing and reminiscent of an accordion, in the Parisian style, imagine “Reine de Musette”.
The remaining members of the ensemble take their positions, one after another they join in on the conversation. It is, as if to say, let us rejoice in this moment and pay homage to the master. A very relaxed stage presence, in typical Flamenco fashion all the members of the ensemble are in dark colours. Flamenco is Andalusian blues; it is all about fire, passion and sad, deep feelings. The “Cantaor” (Flamenco singer) David de Jacoba, has that deep tragic style, when he sings, it is pure lament, grief and heartbreak. Antonio Serrano would introduce the members of the ensemble after this song.
The percussionist ‘Piraña’ and the Cuban bassist, Alain Pérez, whom, as Antonio Serrano mentioned, “We have claimed him, as one of our own now,” performed back up vocals for the second number, a Tanguillo that featured the cantaor David de Jacoba, who sang his heart out. I don’t speak Spanish, so I won’t offer my literal interpretation. However, the feeling conveyed, culminated in excitement, and included elements of great passion and sadness.
The performance had elements of happiness and joy to it, Serrano mentioned the Toronto show, Cirque du Soleil’s, Alegría – because the ensemble saw the show the previous night. “Normally we don’t announce the name of the song, but because of this fantastic show our next number will be Alegría, a shout out to Toronto, you should be proud”. ‘Farruco’, the artist who anchored stage right, looking very serious and adding his own cantaor, palmas (hand claps) and foot stomps in concert with and as a call and response to de Jacoba, during the “Alegría”, rose for his featured performance. Moving with determination he took centre stage, posing, as if a matador, in preparation to take on a bull, he prepares, arms taunting, chest inflating and chin jutting, he stomps his toe into the specially prepared stage and begins a long, masterful clinic on Spanish tap dancing. Flamenco dance is fantastic, especially when in the feet of an exceptional dancer such as ‘Farruco’. He has the dynamics, fast footwork, the contra rhythms, the fury, the passion, and the fire, a requirement of Flamenco Puro. No happy smiling face, while he is dancing there appears rage, this is serious, wild and seemingly, all about life and death. Upon his finale the audience erupts into spontaneous applause and shouts of “Ole ‘Farruco’,” and with a flick of the wrist, a throwing back of his head to clear his dishevelled locks from his face, he departs stage left.
The Chick Corea tune “Spain” “a Taranto for Toronto,” Serrano announces to laughter from the audience. Alain Pérez, the 5 string electric bassist opens the tune, his playing is more guitar and melodic than bass, followed by the other members of the group. It features Serrano on harmonica and his playing is magnificent.
‘Farruco’ returns to the stage looking refreshed and carrying a guitar. The crowd is treated to a duet by the guitarists with Sánchez taking the first lead solo, he has a more refined guitar style, highly technical, with clean, distinct fingering patterns. ‘Farruco’ plays with abandon, passion and fire, similar to his style of dancing. The two guitarists trade licks and a call and response builds into a ferocious finale.
The ensemble makes for centre stage and with a wave and a bow departs to rousing applause, to return a few moments later. The first encore featured ‘Farruco’ and Serrano, guitar and harmonica in duet with a ‘Farruco’ original, dedicated to the master Paco deLucia. The second encore featured ‘Piraña’ solo, pulling out all the stops with a show of his impressive hand playing, incorporating cajon, snare, cymbals and other assorted percussion accoutrements. The other members of the ensemble would join in accompaniment for a grand finale and one last bow to the audience.
A powerful, exciting and fiery performance by all members of the ensemble, that had at its core the spirit of the master – Rest In Power Maestro Paco de Lucía.