Alejandro Sanz is famous for putting flamenco flavor into his pop hits, and he’s known to play a pretty mean Spanish guitar. But rarely has he been captured breaking into full-throated flamenco song. On a new album honoring the late guitar god Paco de Lucia, Sanz rips out an emotional tribute in the traditional deep song style that may make you wonder when he will record his own flamenco album.
On the track, “Primera y Ultima Vez,” on the Latin Grammy nominated tribute album, Sanz is joined by flamenco vocalist José Mercé, whose mesmerizing intonations accompanied by hand clapping are the real deal.
But really, so is everything on this album, which features jazz great Chick Corea, de Lucia’s brother, Pepe, and flute and sax player Jorge Pardo, who was a member of de Lucia’s band, as well as others who were part of the great guitarist’s wide-reaching musical universe. This is an album of personal homages to de Lucia, who was a friend and mentor of those who appear on it. It’s clear they all want to make Paco proud.
“…I was lucky to be able to learn from your existence,” Sanz writes in Spanish in the album’s liner notes. “Like the tree learns with every season. Like the Earth learns with each turn.”
Entre 20 Aguas, á la Música de Paco de Lucia (Among 20 Aguas, to the Music of Paco de Lucia), was produced by Javier Limón, the Spanish producer, who like de Lucia, is known for bringing the flamenco sound to wider audiences. He worked with de Lucia on his 2004 Latin Grammy winning album Cositas Buenas.
The idea for the album was generating before de Lucia died suddenly of a heart attack in February 2014, and it was an idea he was reportedly delighted about.
Entre 20 Aguas, á la Música de Paco de Lucia became available in Spain earlier this month as a collaboration between by Universal Music, El Pais newspapers and Prisa Radio; it is expected to be released in the United States sometime in the next few months.
Limón, Pepe de Lucia and Pardo are celebrating the Spanish album debut with a tribute concert tonight (Oct. 29) at the Berklee College of Music’s campus in Valencia, Spain.