Flamenco Legends: the Paco de Lucía Project, the best of the best

Javier Límon’s Flamenco Legends: The Paco de Lucía Project is at the Purchase College Performing Arts Center in Purchase, New York (White Plains) on Sunday, October 20, 2019 at 3pm.

Tickets from $40


Paco de Lucía

The legacies of great artists go well beyond particular masterpieces. In the case of guitarist and composer Paco de Lucía, his playing, his composing, the sound of his ensembles, his entire approach, marked a “before” and “after” in flamenco.

No group has taken up the challenges of that legacy with greater authority than The Paco de Lucía Project. In the 1980s, the guitarist, who had long-established his place in flamenco history, put together a sextet that incorporated jazz and global music elements and exploded flamenco conventions.

About 20 years later, he assembled a second, younger group. Brimming with energy and technical brilliance, this second sextet both pushed and freed the master, suggesting tantalizing possibilities for the future.

But Paco de Lucía died unexpectedly of a heart attack while on holiday in February 2014. He was 66.


The Paco de Lucía Project

That last ensemble, reconvened as The Paco de Lucía Project, is now on its second tour of North America, celebrating the release of The Paco de Lucía Project (Casalimón Records), a live CD documenting the sound of their inaugural tour. As good as that snapshot is, the sextet has continued to evolve while taking on the challenges of de Lucia ́s legacy.

“That first experience of touring America, taking this music and Paco’s name everywhere, thinking of him every day — it was magnificent,” says guitarist Antonio Sánchez, the son of Paco’s late older brother. “As we toured with this group, each concert was better than the one before. Luckily, we recorded the one in Miami and it’s now a tribute to Paco.”

The sextet features Sánchez on guitar; Alain Pérez on bass; Israel Suárez “Piraña,” percussion; Antonio Serrano, harmonica; David de Jacoba, vocals, and flamenco dancer Antonio Fernández “Farruco” (a/k/a Farru). Except for de Jacoba, who joined later, this is the band captured on de Lucía’s historic double CD Live in Spain 2010.

Javier Limón, the world’s best flamenco producer

Grammy-winning producer and composer Javier Limón, a collaborator and personal friend of de Lucía, masterminded the reunion of the group and produced the CD as a celebration of the legendary guitarist.

“Paco created a new sound with his first group. But then, with this band, he arrived at a different sonority,” says Limón. “And I kept thinking: why are we throwing away a sound that took so many years and so much work to create?”

“By the time he assembled the second sextet, Paco was at his peak, he was the wise old man, the master, and the players were all so young. It was a different dynamic,” reflects Limón. “Alain Pérez is arguably the best Latin bass player of his generation.

Antonio Serrano is the best jazz musician in Spain; and you have Piraña, whom Paco loved, the best percussionist in flamenco’s history. And then you have Antonio, and David, and Farru … Each one of them is a soloist, a leader. This band is the best flamenco group in the world.”

“This band is the best flamenco group in the world.”
Javier Limón

Flamenco is passed down through the generations

Meanwhile, guitarist Antonio Sánchez has embraced the challenges of his uncle ́s legacy with unfailing grace. “I take carrying on Paco’s music with great humility. It’s a real challenge,” said Sánchez, who joined his uncle’s group as a second guitar in 2010 .

“The name is a burden only if you don ́t study, if you don ́t apply yourself and work. Working with this group is a huge responsibility, very demanding, but it also brings out a lot of love on my part — and no fear. On the contrary, I was eager to do this. It has been great to remember him every day in his music, but also it has been great to see how this group has evolved, matured.”

From Flamenco to Jazz to something Universal

While accompanying de Lucía, the members of the group showcased their talents mostly in the space for jazz-style soloing that the guitarist had opened in his music. As it turns out, besides the obvious challenges, the sextet’s reunion also presented opportunities.

“Every day we seem to be doing something different, and it’s great fun, very enjoyable, and it brings us together,” said Sánchez. “And we also started to realize that we can pay tribute to Paco with our own music.

There will always be classics by Paco in the program, songs like “Zyryab” or a rumba like “El Cafetal,” but now also some of our compositions, things we used to do with him in rehearsals but were never recorded. It’s a chance to capture and bring back some of those little things we had with Paco, and it’s beautiful.”

Tickets from $40


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