Flamenco Guitarist Niño Josele debuts new CD “Española” at Village Vanguard;
Spanish virtuoso to appear six nights: Tuesday October 20 to Sunday Oct 25;
Guitarist has performed with Alicia Keys, Paco de Lucía, and Esperanza Spalding
“A searching, absorbent musician. ”
Ben Ratliff, The New York Times
READ New York Times review of Josele’s 2007 show at the Village Vanguard
WATCH video to “Bulería al Golpe”
You may have heard flamenco guitarist and songwriter Niño Josele performing on Esperanza Spalding’s latest release. Or backing Lenny Kravitz, Alicia Keys and Paco de Lucía. And he’s worth a serious listen on his own.
Josele will be appearing with his trio at NYC’s Village Vanguard from Tuesday Oct. 20th through Sunday Oct. 25th, performing two sets each night at 9:00pm & 11:00pm. The young guitarist, who has also performed with Latin music legends including Paco de Lucía, Diego “El Cigala” and Bebo Valdés, will be joined by two Grammy-winning Latin jazz musicians Puerto Rico’s John Benitez (bass) and Cuba’s Horatio “El Negro” Hérnandez (drums).
In his Village Vanguard run -- his only U.S. appearances this year -- Josele will be debuting music from his upcoming CD Española which is set for release November 3rd on Warner Music Spain. The CD’s title track is a McCoy Tyner composition, with the other tracks on the album all Josele originals. Included are two special tracks, the elegant “Waltz for Bill,” inspired by one of Josele’s musical heroes, jazz guitarist Bill Evans, and the sizzling “Zapateado para Bebo,” a tribute to Cuban piano master Bebo Valdés.
The New York Times’ Ben Ratliff previewed his 2007 debut shows at the Village Vanguard by noting: “The Spanish Gitano guitarist Niño Josele…has worked with Diego el Cigala and Enrique Morente, two of the greatest flamenco singers alive, and he is a searching and absorbent musician.”
Bridging the worlds of flamenco and American jazz improvisation has fascinated Niño Josele (pron. NEE-nyo HOE-sell-ay) for many years. The brilliant Spanish guitarist is unusually candid about the challenges he faces in shaping jazz improvisation to the unique contours of flamenco guitar. “ You have to play in jazz clubs, improvise with people who know how to and play every day, make mistakes -- it’s the only way,” he noted recently in an interview with flamenco-world.com. “It can take you years to learn how to improvise the way it’s done in jazz. It’s another way of seeing music. And when you discover how to improvise, you can’t give it up.”
Josele’s prior releases include a tribute CD to Bill Evans entitled “Paz” (2006) and “El Sorbo” (2002) with Spanish producer and songwriter Javier Limón.
Niño Josele – Spanish guitar
Andy González – bass
Horacio “El Negro’ Hernández – drums
Special guest Ralph Bowen - trumpet
Niño Josele Trio
Tuesday Oct 20 through Saturday Oct 25
Two sets each night at 9pm & 11pm
178 – 7th Avenue South
Admission: $20 + $10 minimum
Ticket info and reservations: 212-255-4037 or www.villagevanguard.com
It’s not usual, in the course of an interview with a flamenco artist, that the subject of dodecafonism would come up. It is also most unusual for this kind of artist to get crazy for months, to even go without sleep, in order to capture the magic of a musician (Bill Evans), who belongs to a different genre ( jazz) and who plays a different instrument than he does (piano). But Niño Josele (born Juan José Heredia in Almería, Spain in 1974) is a Spanish guitarist who is always two steps ahead of the rest. (By the way, dodecafonism is the term for a musical composition using the 12-tone technique).
The list of people he has collaborated with is long, but also wide. Lenny Kravitz, Alicia Keys and Elton John are the houseshold names on that list, but it includes also Calamaro, Serrat, Bebo Valdés and, above all, two great flamenco masters: Enrique Morente, who collaborated on recordings and live shows with him; and Paco de Lucía, who chose Niño as his second guitar to record (and tour) his latest CD, “Cositas Buenas”.
In the 90s, Niño Josele had already started looking for his own place in Spain’s crowded musical landscape. His debut album, Calle Ancha, was released in 1995. The following year he won the Young Musicians Competition in the Flamenco Biennal of Sevilla. He has performed with a who’s who of flamenco, including Remedios Amaya, Tomatito, Pepe de Lucía, Montse Cortés and Duquende. But Josele’s career took its biggest leap when he joined forces with singer Diego El Cigala. Their live concert at Madrid’s Teatro Royal was recorded in 2002 and was immediately heralded as a new standard for intuitive communication between musician and singer. “Accompanying Diego is a challenge for any guitarist,” said Josele of his work with Cigala, “You can’t relax for a second, you can never take for granted that you know what’s coming.” At that time he also released “El Sorbo” (2001), a collaboration with producer and musician Javier Limón, featuring many of Spain’s top cantaores.
In 2003 he finally released a self-titled album, produced by Javier Limón and featuring special guests including Enrique Morente, Andrés Calamaro and the Barbès National Orchestra. But the record that truly introduced Niño Josele to American critics was Paz, his 2006 tribute to the American jazz pianist Bill Evans. Josele discovered the music of this jazz legend through Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés. He soon became a man obsessed. With the help of film maker and music producer Fernando Trueba and Javier Limón, and acclaimed musicians such as snger Estrella Morente and musicians Jerry González, Tom Harrell, Joe Lovano and Freddie Cole, the guitarist began work on what would be an extraordinary CD, that kind of work that acts as a reference for future experiments. His next CD, La Venta del Alma, was released last summer and included a series of older compositions in a limited edition.
In Española, Josele’s new album, (to be released November 3rd on Warner Music Spain) the time has come to pull the threads of all these explorations together. The album’s title track is a composition by McCoy Tyner who, along with Bill Evans, has earned a place in the pantheon of great pianists. In Josele’s hands, this jazz classic is absorbed, mixed and then exhaled, totally reinvented as flamenco. The track is the CD’s only cover, with the remained of the tracks all Josele originals, including that hat-tipping “Waltz for Bill” and “Zapateado para Bebo”.
In Española the guitarist has moved a step further technically as well, playing with astonishing assurance. The flamenco is solid, but always makes room for the jazz that swings effortlessly into and out of the picture. He has that “master touch” that turns fusion from an exercise into an art. When Josele wonders, in the title of the second track: “¿Es esto una bulería?” (Is this a buleria?) he acknowledges the musical transformation. It sounds like a traditional bulería, but also exceeds its boundaries in a completely natural way.
On “Española,” everything fits; different styles come and go unnoticed. Producer Fernando Trueba has recorded the guitars live, with no editing. And a team of equally skilled musicians provide support: Ralph Bowen, Alain Pérez, Piraña, Phil Woods, and others.
Together with them, Niño Josele faces his own music. “Española” is own truth. No more and no less.