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Flamenco Jazz: Five Songs Where Andalusia And America Meet

Spanish flamenco guitarist Tomatito joined Dominican pianist Michel Camilo on the Latin Grammy Award-winning Spain.

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Spanish flamenco guitarist Tomatito joined Dominican pianist Michel Camilo on the Latin Grammy Award-winning Spain.

Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Forget Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain and Chick Corea's Spain. There's a whole other world of so-called "flamenco jazz" out there that lives unrecorded, often inside quaint, tiny rooms (in caves, quite literally) on the mountainside near Granada. There and in other cool Andalusian clubs, nightly musical experiments are taking place, where flamenco palos mix with other jazz influences.

Flamenco is one of Spain's richest musical exports: It parallels jazz in the sense that it's a hodgepodge art form, made up of influences from many cultures that span more than one continent. It's only natural that these styles eventually came together to make something special. Below, we've listed five examples.

Five Songs Where Andalusia And America Meet

Cover for Jazz Flamenco, Vols.1 y 2

Las Morillas De Jaen

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Pedro Iturralde and Paco de Lucía

  • Song: Las Morillas De Jaen
  • from Jazz Flamenco, Vols.1 y 2

The first authentic "jazz flamenco" record? Many claim it to be so, although you'll be lucky if you can get your hands on it; the session only lives on blogs and in eBay bidding rooms. Yes, Gil Evans and Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain came years before, but this project was the first to be led by Spanish musicians, with stalwart saxophonist Pedro Iturralde and guitarist Paco de Lucía.

Cover for Spain

Mi Niño José

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Michel Camilo and Tomatito

  • Song: Mi Niño José
  • from Spain

The pianist from the Dominican Republic made waves with the guitar virtuoso from Almería, a beach town in Andalusia. Michel Camilo and Tomatito's collaboration on A Mi Nino Jose was so successful that they received multiple awards, including Best Latin Jazz Album at the first Latin Grammy Awards, and inspired a reunion with the follow-up session Spain Again. They first came together at the 1997 Barcelona Jazz Festival in a tribute performance dedicated to the Spanish bebop pianist Tete Montoliu.

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Song
Spain
Album
Spain
Artist
Michel Camilo & Tomatito
Label
Polygram
Released
2000

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Cover for Hecho a Mano

Solo Con Verte [Tangos, Letra: Luis de la Pica y Chonchi Heredia]

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Chano Domínguez

  • Song: Solo Con Verte [Tangos, Letra: Luis de la Pica y Chonchi Heredia]
  • from Hecho a Mano

Perhaps no musician marries jazz and flamenco as smoothly as the pianist from Cádiz, Andalusia: Chano Dominguez. "There is no way to split the waters," he says. "Solo Con Verte" features traditional flamenco elements such as palmas (handclapping) and the wonderful Andalusian ancestral tradition featuring the great Chonchi Heredia.

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Song
Hecho a Mano
Album
Hecho a Mano
Artist
Chano Domínguez
Label
Sunnyside

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Cover for Y los Piratas del Flamenco

Por La Mínima [Bulerías]

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Jerry Gonzalez

  • Song: Monk Soniquete
  • from Y los Piratas del Flamenco

When the Bronx-born Jerry Gonzalez toured Europe in celebration of the movie Calle 54, he stopped in Madrid for a day. The trumpeter and conguero never left. Four years later, Gonzalez introduced Y Los Piratas Del Flamenco, an experimental band that featured some of flamenco's top talent, including Diego "El Cigala." He continues to make intriguing flamenco jazz to this day with some of these same musicians. Here's a tribute to Thelonious Monk.

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Song
Y los Piratas del Flamenco
Album
Y los Piratas del Flamenco
Artist
Jerry Gonzalez
Label
Sunnyside
Released
2004

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Cover for Noneto Ibérico

Por La Mínima [Bulerías]

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Alexis Cuadrado

  • Song: Por La Mínima [Bulerías]
  • from

Bassist Alexis Cuadrado became infatuated with jazz while growing up in Barcelona. Decades later, after settling in New York City, he discovered his calling to flamenco, the music of his native country. And, as with his innocent love affair with swing, bebop and beyond, the bassist passionately absorbed the many styles of his indigenous music, but also added a modern twist. His mastery is on full display with Noneto Ibérico, a nine-movement suite featuring futuristic arrangements of Alegrías, Seguiriya, Soleá and more. Here's a bulerías, a fast flamenco rhythm in 12 beats.

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Song
Noneto Ibérico
Album
Noneto Ibérico
Artist
Alexis Cuadrado
Label
Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records
Released
2011

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