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SON DE LA FRONTERA

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“The best new group I’ve heard recently, in any genre. A riveting tribute to the seminal flamenco master Diego del Gastor, this CD embraces the tradition of flamenco puro and succeeds in making it new.” JACKSON BROWNE

Heirs and Disciples of Flamenco Innovator
Join Forces as SON DE LA FRONTERA;
Cuban “tres” meets flamenco tradition on tribute disk

One of the most dynamic and unique ensembles in Spain today, Son de la Frontera (Sound of the Frontier) brings a Latin American edge to the flamenco tradition with its auspicious self-titled debut on the World Village label, set for release on January 10th 2006. From the dramatic opener, “Buleria Negra Del Gastor,” to stirring soleas like “Recuerdo” and “Como El Agua Entre Las Piedras” to hybrid pieces like the Middle Eastern-flavored “Arabesco” and the smoky “Tangos de mi Novia,” the members of Son de la Frontera convey unbridled flamenco passion while also carving a wholly unique path in their personal tribute to Spain’s renowned guitar master and sonic innovator, Diego del Gastor.

In performing the music of maestro Gastor, the great guitarist and musical visionary from Moron de la Frontera (in the province of Sevilla), Son de la Frontera is committed to exploring the cross-pollination of Spanish-based traditions with sounds from four other continents, revealing flamenco’s ancient Moorish and Middle Eastern heritage while also blending in rhythmic and melodic elements from Cuba, Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela. Throughout his illustrious career, Gastor (1908-1973) was known for his melding of Latin sounds with flamenco traditions. Son de la Frontera expands on his rich legacy by being the first flamenco group to prominently feature the Cuban très (literally “three” in Spanish), a small, guitar-like instrument with three sets of double metal strings. The tres was established in the classic sexteto format of the 1920s and later popularized by Arsenio Rodriguez, the blind très virtuoso whose ensemble was the most influential band in Cuba during the 1940s and 1950s.

Led by Raul Rodriguez on the très, Son de la Frontera also includes two of Gastor’s descendants: Spanish guitar virtuoso Paco de Amparo and flamenco dancer Pepe Torres (both grand-nephews of the maestro). The group is rounded out by vocalist Moi de Moron and percussionist Manuel Flores, both of whom were born and raised in the flamenco hotbed of Gastor’s beloved Moron de la Frontera. Together they create a scintillating chemistry on their Stateside debut.. The CD is full of stirring falsetas and precision unison lines between Rodriguez’s steel-stringed très and Amparo’s nylon-stringed guitar, exhilarating flurries of synchronized handclaps (compás) from Flores and Moron, dramatic, pulse-quickening “taps” from dancer Torres and intensely passionate vocals from Moron.

Gastor’s compositions illuminate the Middle Eastern influences on flamenco in the spirited zambra “Arabesco” while his soléas “Como El Agua Entre Las Piedras” and “Recuerdo” are laden with emotion. Elsewhere, Gastor’s joyful rhumba “Tangos de mi Novia” uncovers an Argentine connection to flamenco, while the brisk interplay between Rodriguez’s très and Amparo’s strummed guitar on that buoyant piece also adds the infectious spirit of a Cuban tumbao rhythm. The album’s 9-minute centerpiece, “Cambiaron Los Tiempos,” is a stunning showcase for each individual in the ensemble to stretch out instrumentally on a danceable seguiriya form.

The members of Son de la Frontera met in 1998 while playing together in the band supporting Rodriguez’s mother, the renowned Spanish singer Martirio. As he explains, “All of the band's members loved the legacy of Diego del Gastor, and we began experimenting with his music, incorporating the Cuban tres that my mother brought back for me from Havana. It was a special souvenir from her appearance at the 90th birthday celebration for the great Cuban guitarist Compay Segundo [of the Buena Vista Social Club]. For me, bringing the Cuban très to flamenco was a natural extension of Gastor’s creative vision.”

On Son de la Frontera, Rodriguez and his kindred crew push flamenco music forward while acknowledging the depth of its roots, creating a sound that is vintage yet up to date, a perfect duet between Andalusia and the Americas.

About the artists:

RAUL RODRIGUEZ (Cuban très) was born in Sevilla in 1974. He started out playing electric guitar and drums, taking a particularly keen interest in blues and rock music, but by age 17 shifted his attention to playing flamenco guitar. He later attended the University of Sevilla, where he majored in the History of Cultural Anthropology. His began playing professionally in the group Caraoscura, a duo including himself and Jose Loreto “Charmusco,” the son of the famous guitarist Parilla de Jerez. In 1995, they released an album titled Que es lo que quieres de mi on RCA Records, which was produced by Kiki Veneno and Joe Dworniak. In 1996, Raul joined Veneno as his flamenco guitarist, touring and recording Punta Paloma (BMG 1997), Puro Veneno (BMG 1998), and La Familia Pollo (BMG 2000). Rodrigues has most recently performed with his mother, the renowned Spanish singer Martirio, playing guitar and percussion. In 1999, he co-produced Martirio’s Flor de Piel (52 P.M.), an ambitious flamenco-jazz interpretation of South American music. In 2001, Raul produced and arranged Martirio’s Mucho Corazon (52 P.M.), which was nominated as “Best Flamenco Album” at the 2002 Latin Grammys. In 2003 he formed Son de la Frontera. A seasoned session musician, Rodriguez has also recorded with Compay Segundo, Chavela Vargas, Soledad Bravo, Jerry González, and many others.

PACO DE AMPARO (flamenco guitar) was born in 1969 in Moron de la Frontera into a family with a long lineage of great flamenco guitarists. He is the great nephew of Diego del Gastor, the nephew of Luis Torres Cadiz “Joselero de Moron” and also the nephew of Diego de Moron and Andorrano. Paco’s extensive list of sideman credits includes work with Juana Amaya, Antonio Canales, Gaspar de Utrera, Luis “El Zambo,” Manuel Molina, Rafael de Utrera, and Jose Merce. In 1998, he began to collaborate with the singer Martirio, and soon thereafter became one of the principal guitarists of her flamenco group. He also worked with dancer Antonio Canales in his performance titled “Bailaor” which was presented at the Bienal de Flamenco de Sevilla in 2002, and also collaborated on the album Solo Compas, en vivo desde Moron De La Frontera. He appears on Martirio’s most recent album, Mucho Corazon.

MOI DE MORON (voice and percussion) was born in 1977 in Moron De La Frontera. Moi began his musical career by playing flamenco guitar but as a teenager began to gravitate toward singing (cante). In 1996, he started working at the renowned El Cordobes club in Barcelona. A year later, he joined Antonio Andrade’s company and afterwards toured with Peter Holloway’s “Jaleo Flamenco” and with Christina Hoyos in 2001. Moi has sung at all the major flamenco clubs in Sevilla, including El Arenal, Las Brujas, and Los Gallos, where he began working with Spanish singer, Martirio. He has performed with Martirio in Miami, San Juan and at the Festival Cubadisco in Havana, and has also contributed to the live album Solo Compas, en Vivo Desde Moron De La Frontera.

PEPE TORRES (flamenco dance), born in Sevilla in 1978, is following in the flamenco footsteps of his grandfather Luis Torres Cadiz, also known as Joselero de Moron. His great uncle was Diego del Gastor and he is the nephew of Diego de Moron and Andorrano. Pepe began dancing at a very early age at family gatherings and small flamenco clubs. At the age of 11 he began to formally train as a dancer with maestros such as Manolo Marin, Farruco and Rafael El Negro. He made his first professional appearance as a flamenco dancer at age 14, and soon after began to work steadily in some of the more well-known flamenco clubs throughout Spain. In 1998, Pepe began to work with artists in the world of flamenco-jazz, and was featured on a television show called “Septimo de Caballeria” along with Martirio, Chano Dominguez and Raimundo Amador. He subsequently went on tour with Martirio and was also involved in the recording of two of the singer’s albums, 1999’s Flor de Piel and 2001’s Mucho Corazon. In 2000, he worked at El Gazpacho in Moron de La Frontera, sharing the stage with Juana Amaya and Jose Menese among others. He participated in the show “Bailaor” which was presented at the Bienal de Sevilla. He was part of a program on Spanish Canal Sur 2 Television called “La Venta del Duende” and danced in the first-ever Feria Internacional del Flamenco in Sevilla and in a show titled “La Hora de Moron.”

MANUEL FLORES (percussion) was born in Moron De La Frontera in 1969. Considered one of the masters of hand rhythm (compás) from Moron, he has participated in the Bienal de Flamenco and the Feria Mundial de Flamenco. For many years, Flores was the rhythmic “anchor” for singers and dancers such as Chano Lobato, Andorrano, Kilo Veneno, Juan de Juan, Nano de Jerez, Rafael de Utrera and Javier Ruibal, and guitarists, Paco del Gastor, Diego de Moron, Juan del Gastor, “El Leri,”and Eduardo Rebollar. Outside of Spain, he has been involved in flamenco performances in the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal, the United States, France and Belgium. In 1998, Manuel Flores began to collaborate with Martirio. He soon became an integral part of her flamenco group and performed on her latest album, Mucha Corazon, subsequently touring with her in 2003 and 2004.