In memory of Antonio Mairena

Alejandro Escribano. Madrid, February 28th, 2009
Photos: © Paco Manzano

Cancanilla de Marbella (cante) with Chaparro de Málaga (guitar) / La Macanita (cante), with Manuel Parrilla (guitar) and Chícharo and Gregorio (clapping) / Canela de San Roque (cante) with Antonio Carrión (guitar). 17th Caja Madrid Flamenco Festival 2009. Teatro del Canal. Sala B. Madrid. February 28th, 2009. 8:30 p.m.

With the title “Recordando a Antonio Mairena en su centenario” (“Remembering Antonio Mairena in His Centennial”), the third day of the Caja Madrid Flamenco Festival was devoted practically entirely to the sublime figure of Antonio Mairena. A recollection, present in the memory of the artists and enthusiasts gathered at the Teatros del Canal, which had a voice of its own in the heartfelt words of Manuel Martín, president of the Gypsy Presence National Association, which opened the evening by commemorating the centennial of the birth of the maestro from Los Alcores. In his appearance Martín was also considerate enough to recall other centennial anniversaries, like that of Manolo Caracol, La Niña de la Puebla and Isaac Albéniz. And he even commemorated another more distant day, but not less important; that of the 150th anniversary of the birth of another brilliant artist, guitarist Paco el de Lucena. At the same time, Martín emotionally evoked Antonio’s brothers, absent due to health problems, finishing his appearance with the reading of the manifesto in favor of the celebration of Antonio Mairena’s centennial.

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Cancanilla (Photo © Paco Manzano)

The night, artistically speaking, was opened by Sebastián Heredia Santiago, Cancanilla de Marbella. The artist of artists, Cancanilla is a cantaor with excellent conditions, with a good timbre and great mastery of rhythmic styles. All of it was present in the interesting recital which the Marbella-born artist offered, which began with a very special recollection por soleá por bulerías of La Moreno, La Niña de los Peines and, as it couldn’t be any other way, Antonio Mairena. He continued with personality por tientos-tangos and displayed his gypsy echo por seguiriyas, with Chaparro’s perfect accompaniment. He delighted por bulerías, a little dance included, recalling Caracol and Los Canasteros, a tablao which was owned by the Sevillian cantaor and where Cancanilla worked in the late ’60s. He finished his performance with the recitative of Juana La Loca, showing that with art and wit, you can even dance por bulerías without heel tapping.

La Macanita started off her recital por tientos and tangos, full of old Jerez flavor. Por soleá, she recalled Mojama, firm and sure, adjusting herself to the precise compás of Manolito Parrilla. She continued with two unquestionable sets of lyrics por malagueñas and was liked por seguiriya and cabal. “I’m going to sing a little por bulerías. And I’m going to remember my land”. And boy, did she ever. With a traditional repertoire, mainly with classical lyrics, like the ones of the fiesta por bulerías off the historical album Canta Jerez, she captivated the crowd, finishing por bulerías a cappella, singing and dancing to lyrics from her previous discs and recalling two emblems of Jerez art: La Paquera and Lola Flores. Little kicks of art and prestige which, by the way, were also signed by clappers Gregorio and Chícharo.

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Canela de San Roque (Photo © Paco Manzano)

Following the intermission, it was the last cantaor of the night’s turn, Canela de San Roque. Although the gypsy from Campo de Gibraltar doesn’t appear very often in Madrid, it’s always good luck to be able to enjoy an artist so attached to tradition. A cantaor who makes getting things across his banner, as he made more than clear in the wonderful soleá which he opened the recital with, dedicated of course to his maestro Mairena and in which guitarist Antonio Carrión also sparkled. He continued por seguiriyas and por fandangos de Antonio el de la Calzá, which he uttered with authority. Por bulerías de Alcalá and por bulerías por soleá, he had the audience eating out of his hand, recovering old lyrics with his excellent gypsy echo. He bade farewell por taranto, with lyrics which had already been sung by Camarón de la Isla:

“Pride and love / fight one another in my mind / a war without headquarters, where there’s no death / oh, there’s only a woman”

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La Macanita
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