NEW YORK – Jazz has its blues, flamenco its laments, both are rich in improvisation, and now there is an occasion that brings these two styles together – the Flame Festival in New York, where four Spanish artists living in the city show the results of their musical fusion.
The Cornelia Street Cafe in West Village is the scene over the weekend of this dialogue under the baton of Rebeca Vallejo, the vocalist and composer who will close the festival with her performance on Sunday.
The Flame features on its program guitarist and composer Albert Alabedra accompanied by singer Noemi Perez, and on Saturday by Nacho Arimany, a true one-man band.
Alabedra, a self-taught Barcelona native who recorded his latest disc in Brooklyn, is immersed in the Catalan school of flamenco, influenced by rumba but “he fuses it with funk” and different kinds of jazz. It’s flamenco music on classical guitar but with an itch to expand the genre,” Vallejo said in an interview with Efe.
For his part, Madrid-born Arimany, who began playing piano with the orchestra on Radio Television Española when he was 6 years old and ended up accompanying Joaquin Cortes, has seen the world and “has been enriched by the rhythms in every country where he has traveled,” until he formed a percussion set “full of all kinds of body rhythms and other stuff,” according to Vallejo.
Though flamenco has been fused with many other styles, as shown by the duos of Paco de Lucia and Chick Corea, or of Bebo Valdes and Diego el Cigala, according to Vallejo “the flamenco technique is very hard to mix with anything else.”
“That’s why I call it jazz-flamenco and not flamenco-jazz, because it’s basically jazz with the flamenco on top as a kind of decoration. At least that’s what it is from a vocal point of view,” she said.