In Memoriam Paco de Lucía 1947-2014

When I was deliberately forcing flamenco onto myself, it didn’t take long until I ended up with Paco de Lucía’s music. Although the passion common in the genre and his mindblowing dexterity make him the rightful household name within the flamenco nuevo movement, his position as such wasn’t always undisputed. Traditionalist flamenco fans were put off by the fact that he incorporated alien genres into his music, jazz first and foremost. His ‘Siroco’ album, however, is arguably one of the most popular flamenco records of all time. One of the best too. Sadly, De Lucía passed away last week at age 66.

De Lucía’s guitar playing sounds from my speakers quite frequently; one of my all time favorite records is ‘Friday Night In San Francisco’, on which he cooperated with jazz guitar legends Al Di Meola and John McLaughlin. The record popularized acoustic guitar music for a while and the chemistry between the three is instantly audible. Both McLaughlin and Di Meola play wonderfully on that record, however, De Lucía’s instinctive fingerwork truly makes him the star of the friday night in question.

But that’s not the only enjoyable record in the extended oeuvre of De Lucía. He will always be remembered in his home country of Spain for his legendary work with singer Camarón de la Isla. However, as a fan of instrumental flamenco guitar music, I urge everyone with the same curiosity I had for the genre a couple of years ago to check out his brilliant solo records ‘Solo Quiero Caminar’, the aforementioned ‘Siroco’ and the fantastic live record of his sextet, ‘Live…One Summer Night’. Spanish passion hardly gets any better than that.

In Paco de Lucía, the world didn’t only lose one of its greatest guitarists, we lost a composer of inhuman brilliance, a fearless innovator and someone who broke down boundaries. He will be sorely missed. Please let me share this brilliant performance of one of the ‘Friday Night In San Francisco’ highlights with you. It’s Al Di Meola’s ‘Mediterranean Sundance’, but De Lucía gets all the room to shine here.

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