First, the musician. Paco de Lucía was composing a solo. Falseta to falseta, as it did. A flamenco solo guitar theme is made up of two parts: compás and falsetas. The compás are the basic chords of the rhythm of the different flamenco styles (bulería, soleá, tangos, alegrías…). The falseta, that part in which the guitarist shines, phrasing, virtuosity. De Lucía would start a falseta and until he felt it finished and perfect, or until he was satisfied enough within his chronic dissatisfaction as a creator, he would not go on to the next one. This time he was not. Something was missing. Something was wrong. It didn’t sound like flamenco to him … He put the guitar in its case and for the next few days he devoted himself exclusively to listening to the old recordings of Ramón Montoya, a guitarist from the first half of the 20th century, one of the first great teachers. When he picked up the instrument again, all he did in the falseta he was composing was introduce a silence. Then it finally sounded the way he wanted: flamenco sounded to him.
Paco de Lucía, the Oliver Twist of flamenco
Second, the man. In 2000 the guitarist went to live in Toledo. He did it in the center. His house, where he composed the album Good things, is today a boutique hotel, Between two waters, where you can feel the city and the rooms that inspired it. There his acquaintances called him on the phone and asked “Paco, how are you?” and he only answered “here, with the Chinese …”. So for many days. Until his friend Javier Limón, who was then his producer, worried about him. “Who are these Chinese?” He wondered, “what is happening?” He planted himself in Toledo to understand what was happening and when he got home he found the musician, in his red tracksuit, lying on the floor of the patio. “Here I am, with the Chinese …”, he said. He was, one by one, placing the pebbles, the chinese, of the cobblestone. “To make it look good I have to do it myself. You have to go one by one looking at exactly which one is the best fit,” he explained.
That passion, turned into an obsession, that patience and, also, that vocation to create, as he defined it, with a hand clinging to tradition, to that purest flamenco that he learned from childhood through his father, an amateur guitarist. , the man who placed the instrument in his hands as a child that he would never let go of, and with the other hand scratching, searching for new lands, opening unpublished musical frontiers, were the most outstanding qualities of the guitarist. That passion, patience and vocation spread to his family. Thus, their children say, they have created, slowly, obsessively too, how De Lucía composed his falsetas, until the project matured, the Paco de Lucía Foundation, seven and a half years after he died in Mexico at the age of 66. That passion is from now on real and shared. The foundation was presented this Friday at the Teatro Real, on the same stage where Paco de Lucía performed for the first time in 1975 in what has become one of his most important and iconic performances. It was the first time that flamenco played on the most important musical scene in Spain, until then banned from flamenco artists, frowned upon and ignored, in general, by classical musicians. It was the only Spanish curtain that had yet to be raised. From that moment on, she opened them all around the world during a further 40 years of career, “always, a lifetime, with her guitar on her back, traveling the world, for flamenco”, as the writer remembers it since she was a child. Casilda Sánchez Varela, her eldest daughter.
“Those of us who knew him well know that what really concerned him, much more than his own importance, was that of flamenco. And when we asked ourselves what he would have done with the time he lacked, we agreed that what he would have wanted is finish clearing the way for the guitarists who came behind. To give up the baton, “explains his eldest daughter to eldiario.es. “The Foundation was born for that,” he adds. The objective, as he says, is for the foundation to be that place where his father can access, Paco, as he calls him, as flamencos also call him today. “And I am not referring only to his work or his performances, but to his way of understanding creation. A place where you can read, from beginning to end, the Paco de Lucía chapter in the History of music. And , from there, keep moving forward. ”
The foundation, created jointly by his five children and by his widow, Gabriela Canseco, was born, as it is summed up, “for flamenco”. He also does it at a particularly hard time for this music. The long hiatus of the pandemic, with festivals, theaters and, above all, tablaos, where flamenco lives daily and where an important part of its artists eat, closed, has made a dent in a sector that, from its origins, except exceptions, it has never abandoned precariousness. The foundation thus aspires to be a benchmark in the sector for the dialogue that they want to create with public and private institutions for the dissemination, promotion and claim of the prestige of flamenco. This is one of the three pillars of action that they have already begun to develop. The first, as his daughter pointed out, the dissemination of the musician’s legacy. The third, education and social plans. They all have projects that they have been working on for months.
A complete file on the guitarist’s work is being finalized, especially intended for all musicians who continue to delve into his music today. Paco de Lucía marked a before and after in flamenco guitar. After his emergence, all guitarists wanted to play like him and he became their benchmark. Even today all the new guitarists literally play like Paco de Lucía. But, in addition, they prepare exhibitions for amateurs and non-amateurs. One focused on his guitars and another that aims to be an immersive experience, fundamentally audiovisual, through which he can learn in that depth of immersion both his creations and the story of, as they define it, “his exciting life”. Both exhibitions are complementary to the Paco de Lucía Interpretation Center, in Algeciras, his hometown, which is scheduled to open next year although the works are still pending adjudication by the city council. There, from next Monday, at seven thirty in the afternoon, every day the music of the most illustrious neighbor of the city will sound through the town hall clock.
Among the foundation’s medium-term objectives, the creation of a Casa del Flamenco, a museum of national reference, stands out in Madrid, where the foundation has initially established its headquarters and there is none, which is also a living space for the activities of the foundation. In short, they have already reached a collaboration agreement with the School of Creative Music to make El flamenco lab Paco de Lucía, to disseminate and deepen their music; They plan to make audiovisual productions about flamenco and organize concerts and festivals and develop that social activity that will involve from granting scholarships to musicians to bringing flamenco to schools, so that education about this art as ancestral as, however, unknown, is the basis of the prestige they claim for him.
For this long and ambitious mission, the guitarist’s family has the support, within the board of the foundation, of relevant people in the sector such as Alejandro Sanz, a great friend of De Lucía, dancer Sara Baras or Narcís Rebollo, president of Universal, the record label of the musician. From this they have wanted to celebrate the birth of the project by remastering and reissuing their first albums from the sixties and seventies on vinyl. Some had already disappeared from the market. Others come to him now, more than 50 years later, for the first time.
But personalities from outside the world of music have also joined the team. This is the case of Federico Linares, president of the Ernest & Young consultancy in Spain. A great flamenco fan, contagious from his father, Linares is the champion of one of the foundation’s most interesting projects: an in-depth study of the economic and social impact of flamenco. It had never been done before, to know the real dimension of this music considered a World Heritage Site by Unesco since 2010. It is scheduled for the end of this year or the beginning of 2022. “Flamenco is one of the great references of culture in the world. And it is ours. It is Spain “, praises Linares to this newspaper. The idea is that its results serve as an incentive to achieve greater involvement of public and private institutions for flamenco. “I believe that from the business world we can help, and not only in terms of sponsorship, but also through our active involvement and ability to prescribe. As we do with other cultural references such as opera, dance or classical music. Because many companies believe that culture is, in essence, education and emotion. And education and emotions are, perhaps, all we need to help transform society and build a better world “, adds Linares. The foundation is now open to collaborate with these public institutions and with the business world, to which they demand its support to fulfill the mission, but it has also opened, through its website, a channel for all those who wish to join the cause. they can make their contributions.
“Our great illusion is to be able to discover this sublime music to those who do not know it, to bring it closer to all sensibilities and to offer the tools to make it accessible and for anyone to get excited about it in the same way we get excited about it”, confesses Casilda, the guitarist’s daughter. “And, in short, let it end, as my father always wanted, having the same prestige as the other great musics in the world,” he adds. For flamenco, for the musician and, also, for the man. For a father whose heritage, his children say today, is not only his music, but also his concept of life, work and dedication. For the legacy of a musician who was a genius for flamenco artists and for the best guitarists in the world. Mark Knopfler said of him that seeing him play he understood that he did not know how to do it and Keith Richards that there were only two or three guitarists who could be considered legends “and above all is Paco de Lucía”. But because of that legacy, also, of the man who until the end of his life when a concert ended, and someone asked him how it had gone, he replied: “It seems they keep swallowing …”.