Various Artists(4)

The History of Flamenco [Casa de Música]

When Paco de Lucia initiated the Nuevo Flamenco movement in the late ’60s, he moved the music forward while remaining fully rooted in the traditional forms. More recently, artists such as the Gipsy Kings, Ottmar Liebert, and Strunz & Farah, have brought their versions of an even newer “new” flamenco to huge audiences in the U.S., Europe, and other parts of the world. As good as some of this music is, it often bears only superficial resemblance to the music of the original Spanish artists, making this box set an invaluable resource for anyone interested in flamenco’s roots.
On The History of Flamenco’s 12 CDs you’ll find a huge range of music, divided into five categories. The three discs in the La Guitarra series present a total of 45 solo guitar selections from Sabicas, Niño Ricardo, Pepe Martinez, Luis Maravilla, Manolo Labrador, Manuel Cano, Pepe Badajoz, Paquito Simón, Vicente “El Granaino,” and Victor Monje “Serranito”—nearly all of which display stunning musicality and technical prowess. There’s also great guitar playing on many of the other 135 songs, accompanying performances by legendary singers such as Don Antonio Chacón and Carmen Savilla. A 35-page booklet containing brief biographies of many of the artists is helpful, though a detailed historical overview would have been of greater value.
—Barry Cleveland