Thursday, February 27, 2014

R.I.P.: Paco de Lucia

Born Francisco Gustavo Sánchez Gomes on December 21, 1947 in Algeciras, Andalusia, Spain;
Died February 25, 2014 in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

One of the world's greatest guitarists ever. And the track that introduced Paco's artistry to me (and to millions of listeners all over the planet, outside Spain) was "Mediterranean Sundance," a song that Al Di Meola composed thinking of him. They recorded it as a duo performance for Di Meola's "Elegant Gypsy" album in 1977, and the track became instantly historic for expanding the traditions of flamenco music, something that made the tradionalists (why traditionalists are always stupid?) feel furious about it, as documented by writer D.E. Pohren on his 1992 book "Paco de Lucía and Family: The Master Plan."
"Despite considerable new interest in flamenco and de Lucia's playing generated by the album, traditionalist flamenco critics did not approve of the piece and hated that many people considered Mediterranean Sundance flamenco music and frowned upon de Lucia. Di Meola informed the critics not to worry and that "Paco is not leaving flamenco, but expanding it."

That track alone was responsible for attracting the attention of all the musicians in jazz circles, and specially to such guitarists as Larry Coryell and John McLaughlin, and eventually led to famous guitar trio recordings and concerts with them. "Friday Night In San Francisco" (1981), recorded with McLaughlin and Di Meola (who replaced Coryell) sold over one million copies. In 1983, they conceived "Passion, Grace & Fire", and released "The Guitar Trio" (which included a wonderful version of "Manhã de Carnaval," the unofficial Brazilian hymn composed by Luiz Bonfa, a guitarist that they idolized) in 1996. The rest is history. Rest in Peace, Paco.  

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