Playlist: Sebastian’s Jerez flamenco picks
A resident of Jerez for 13 years, Sebastian Lapostol was born in the US to Chilean parents. After obtaining a degree in comparative literature and travelling around Spain, North Africa and the Middle East, he moved to Jerez in 1997 to study flamenco guitar. It was a couple of roving gypsies performing in a little bar in Malaga – of all places – that ignited Sebastian’s passion for flamenco. For many years he split his time between Jerez and Fez, Morocco, where he owned a guesthouse in the medina, but he’s now permanently based in Jerez with his friendly cat, Lailo.
With his Latino heritage, wealth of local knowledge, especially when it comes to culture, and pitch-perfect local accent, Sebastian is truly living local. If there is a flamenco performer in Jerez he doesn’t know, they’re probably not worth knowing, so we asked Sebastian to create a playlist that could serve as a ‘Flamenco 101’ focused on the Jerez scene, particularly its guitar performers.
Sebastian delivered in spades, so we thought this time we’ll let our local insider tell the story. We just love his last words – this is a man who has truly followed his passion!
José Mercé-Aire: “José is the nephew of the late, great, Manuel Soto Sordera, and is currently Spain’s most popular flamenco singer. He is well known and loved in his native Jerez and hasn’t let fame go to his head. He took his artistic name from the Basilica de la Merced, which is on the street of the same name in the neighborhood of Santiago. I chose him because he has done much to give legitimacy to the Jerez school of flamenco, maintaining his roots while also popularising the genre.”
Vicente Amigo. “Ciudad de las Ideas is an excellent album by this amazing guitarist from Cordoba. Ok, he isn’t a Jerezano, but nobody’s perfect! Tres Notas para Decir Te Quiero from the album became an instant classic, used in film scores and TV ads. It’s an amazing work of guitar composition, and one of my inspirations.”
Moraito Chico (aka Morao, Morao). “No one can talk about flamenco guitar in Jerez without paying special homage to Moraito, its most popular figure. Morao plays with a compás (TC: the flamenco term for the time signature and rhythm) that is so uniquely his and yet so identifiably Jerezano. His pieces are relatively simple but he puts the swing into them which is difficult to re-create. Most guitarists in Jerez can play something of his.”
Miguel Flores (aka El Capullo de Jerez). “El Capullo is a larger-than-life bohemian artist with a long history of drunken escapades and clashes with authority. His lyrics are strongly working class-oriented, and identified with some of the more festive and dark elements of flamenco. His tangos and bulerias (TC: the flamenco style that originated in Jerez) on the album Este Soy Yo are fantastic!”
Santiago Lara. “Santi, as he is known, was the youngest guitarist ever to win the Biennale de Sevilla several years ago, and his career has just shot up since. Having played as second guitarist with legend Manolo Sanlucar, he is now married to one of the best dancers in the world, Mercedes Ruiz. I have been good friends for quite some time with Santi’s older brothers, Paco and José, both excellent flamenco artists themselves (guitar and singer, respectively). They also appear on Santi’s first solo album, Sendero de lo Impossible, and I think most people will be dazzled by the virtuosity of this young man…thankfully he’s so young it will be exciting to watch how his playing evolves over the years.”
“I feel I should also make a special mention of Tomasa Guerrero (aka La Macanita),” Sebastian adds, “Her powerful and emotive voice is one of the best of a long list of excellent female cantaoras (TC: women flamenco singers) from Jerez. La Luna de Tomasa is her most accessible album to date, with guitar provided by Diego del Morao (Moraito’s son), with all the swing and compas of the bulerias de Jerez.”
“I feel like I could go on and on,” Sebastian tells us, “But many of Jerez’s best artists have no commercial recordings or what they have done is out of print, or not widely available. With luck, this list may turn some people out there onto flamenco. And for those who listen to any of these and feel as if the breath has literally been sucked out from them, that is the thunderbolt, my friend, and God help you, for once flamenco has sunk deep into the bones and takes root, it stays there for life.”
Hooked? Read more about flamenco in Jerez on Sebastian’s blog. He also offers flamenco-themed tours in Jerez and surrounds.