The Ivory of Flamenco

1 10 2007

Diego Amador

DIEGO AMADOR
Piano Jondo (World Village)

The 2003 release Bebo & Cigala—the pairing of flamenco vocalist Diego “El Cigala” and Cuban pianist Bebo Valdes—provoked an inventive possibility within the flamenco tradition, matching the vocals of that tradition with Cuban piano playing. One can only think the same listening to Diego Amador’s stunning Piano Jondo, a quiet and stealth creation that pairs ivory with palmas and the occasional guitar. The twelve-beat bulerías “Comparito,” a style that allows great improvisation, finds Amador freely rolling over the landscape of handclaps. The other bulerías “¡Vivan Los Gitanos!,” extends past twelve minutes with the help of guitar. Another important flamenco form, Seguiriya, is explored on the dazzling “Seguiriya De Pildorilla.” This more than any expresses Amador’s great passion and reflection for his song form. The thirty-four-year-old Seville native, who claims to be “self-taught” in a non-academic manner, certainly injects plenty of feeling into his craft. He had learned piano, percussion, guitar and bass before adolescence was over, admitting a noted and mature voice well before those formative years. He drummed for the flamenco/rock fusion outfit Pata Negra (which his brothers founded), before going it alone. And while his voice was an early focal point, he does not sing a note on Piano Jondo. On his por tangos “Continuum,” Amador covers late bassist Jaco Pastorious, a musician we can only guess he felt some brotherhood for—the ways in which Pastorious evolved and experiment with the bass is in similar regard as Amador’s piano. For a man that claims to have arisen out of the tough Roma barrios of southern Seville, he certainly has learned the secret alchemy of art: to take struggle and strife and create something beautiful, and lasting, of it. – Derek Beres

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