KAI SAYS

Kai says, “There’s so much great flamenco out there on YouTube these days it’s almost impossible to know what to look for, so I’ll be posting videos of some of the players, singers and dancers that I love here from time to time to give you some ideas. Start here and follow YouTube’s suggestions or just do a search for people you like the best. The more you listen to flamenco the more you’ll understand, so just keep listening to everything you can get your hands on!”

There’s not a flamenco

guitarist alive…

– who wasn’t in some way inspired by Paco, and thousands began simply because they heard him play. His influence can’t really be overstated. You just have to listen to him for a minute or two to see just how amazing he was. Paco was the guy who made flamenco swing, and who paved the way for all the diversity in flamenco we see today. I could have picked any of hundreds of great videos of Paco, but here he plays some of my favorite falsetas and really he’s just in his prime.

Paco and his Sextet

– brothers Pepe de Lucia (cante) and Ramon de Algeciras (guitar) along with Jorge Pardo (flute), Carles Benavent (bass) and Rubem Dantas (percussion). These guys basically founded the flamenco fusion movement. It’s hard to believe that the cajon was only introduced to flamenco about 35 years ago by Rubem and Paco. They basically took the idea of jazz-rock fusion and applied it to flamenco, replacing rock with flamenco. 

Camarón de la Isla, better know as just Camarón

…was the greatest singer of the second half of the 20th Century. His records with Paco were as revolutionary as Paco’s solo recordings, and their collaboration changed flamenco forever. Live Camarón toured with Tomatito, the guitarist who has influenced my playing more than any other. I memorized every note of their 1987 live album and more or less taught myself to play for cante with that record before any singers would let me play for them. The two of them together are the essence of raw, powerful flamenco – just a singer and a guitar and you don’t need anything else. 

Moraito is one of the great 

– Jerez-born guitarist and arguably the most fun of anyone to watch. At least he always looks like he’s having more fun that anyone else out there. His bulerias were always just perfect, and he was one of the very best accompanists for cante. His son, Diego del Morao, is one of the current generation’s greatest players, too.

Enrique Morente was another 

… of the great singers of the last 50 years, and I was lucky to see a lot of him when I lived in Granada, where he’s from. After establishing himself as a singer who could sing traditional cante as well as anyone out there, usually accompanied by Pepe Habichuela, he began to experiment in every way possible, working with rock bands, Bulgarian choirs, you name it. One of my favorite recordings is one he did with Sabicas just before Sabicas’ death. Sabicas’ chops weren’t what they used to be but the playing is spectacular and to me there’s something magical about that album. Here’s Morente with the amazing Juan Manuel Canizares singing a seguiriya from Carlos Saura’s movie Flamenco.

Pepe Habichuela, from Granada

– is another one of the great guitarists of Paco’s generation. His brother Juan was one of the all-time great accompanists and together with their sons and now grandsons the Habichuelas are another of the great flamenco dynasties. Pepe was more prolific than Juan (and the name Juan is never spoken without the word ‘elegant’). Here’s Pepe with his son (or nephew – I can’t keep them straight) playing a buleria from his record A Mandeli. 

Manolo Sanlucar might have been 

… the Paco of his generation if it hadn’t been for Paco. Hard to say, but it’s only in comparison to Paco that Sanlucar seems like anything other than one of the greatest guitarists and composers of his generation. Here he is playing Oración from his masterpiece album ‘Tauromagia’. 

And of course without Sabicas 

– there might never have been a Paco. Sabicas was a crazy genius of the guitar, and even today his music is almost unplayable by most mortals. And he also paved the way for Paco by making audiences around the world pay attention to flamenco in the first place. Most great guitarists I know tell me that Paco and Sabicas are the two great influences, and some put Sabicas first.