Flamenco Is Alive After Paco De Lucía : Alt.Latino The guitarist died over three years ago and left a void in the world of flamenco music. His last touring band is now back on the road, remembering and honoring his legacy.
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Flamenco Is Alive After Paco De Lucía

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Flamenco Is Alive After Paco De Lucía

Flamenco Is Alive After Paco De Lucía

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia died more than three years ago. But his influence is still on stage. He took flamenco from a very strict traditional form and added jazz and world music influences and collaborated with musicians outside of flamenco. Members of de Lucia's last touring band are on the road right now revisiting the late guitarist's music. They are led by guitarist-producer Javier Limon. Betto Arcos reports.

BETTO ARCOS, BYLINE: Javier Limon says the loss of Paco de Lucia will be felt for a long time.

JAVIER LIMON: We lost a leader that was even bigger than flamenco itself. Paco de Lucia was like Piazzolla or like Gardel for the tango. Paco de Lucia was like Jobim for bossa nova or like Miles Davis for jazz. And I think that we're going to need decades to have a musician or a guitarist that big.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SOLO POR VERTE BAILAR")

ARCOS: The flamenco guitar was primarily an instrument to accompany singers.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SOLO POR VERTE BAILAR")

FOSFORITO: (Singing in Spanish).

ARCOS: Then came the great guitarists - Roman Montoya, his nephew Carlos Montoya, Sabicas and Nino de Ricardo. Fellow guitarist Jose Fernandez Torres better known as Tomatito says Paco de Lucia learned from all of them.

JOSE FERNANDEZ TORRES: (Through interpreter) He learned, and he went beyond them. He changed the music. He changed the way of playing. He changed flamenco harmony. He did everything.

(SOUNDBITE OF PACO DE LUCIA'S "CASA BERNARDO (RUMBA)")

ARCOS: Paco de Lucia was the consummate musician, says Javier Limon.

LIMON: Paco - beside being the best flamenco guitarist ever and a great, great composer - he was a great producer. He was the producer of Camaron de la Isla's albums and many others. So he created, as a producer, a new sound with this band.

(SOUNDBITE OF PACO DE LUCIA'S "CASA BERNARDO (RUMBA)")

ARCOS: Now that the Paco de Lucia Project is on tour, people might ask, why present concerts with the guitarist's band without the leader? Limon says it's a fair question.

LIMON: All these artists, all these young members of the band are very good leaders and are very good soloists.

(SOUNDBITE OF PACO DE LUCIA'S "CASA BERNARDO (RUMBA)")

LIMON: So now we have the opportunity to get deeper in every one of them. So even without Paco, the sound of the band is there. That has a very important value.

ARCOS: Nevertheless, another flamenco guitarist Raul Rodriguez says what's missing in today's scene is a guiding, creative figure.

RAUL RODRIGUEZ: (Through interpreter) For many decades, flamenco has been thought as a music that's already made, already finished. So now it's not so much that we miss Paco de Lucia, it's that we urgently need to have creative minds within our music so we don't repeat the old scheme, or it's going to fall asleep.

(SOUNDBITE OF PACO DE LUCIA'S "MONASTERIO DE SAL")

ARCOS: Guitarist and producer Javier Limon says the void left by Paco de Lucia will take a long time to fill. But the future looks bright as long as artists learn the roots of flamenco and embrace the open ears Paco de Lucia brought to the music.

LIMON: We need to really get deep in the knowledge of rhythm, harmony, sound, melodies and quality basically. It's about quality.

ARCOS: Limon says there's plenty of room to make flamenco a bigger musical language. And it's more important than ever to keep playing for as many audiences as possible. For NPR News, I'm Betto Arcos.

(SOUNDBITE OF PACO DE LUCIA'S "VAMONOS (LIVE IN SPAIN 2010)")

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