Last Wednesday, October 26th, 2016 Tomatito channeled the strongest pulse and heartbeat of flamenco I have ever heard on a theater stage. I didn’t feel like I was in a theater. He took the audience into his music and into the dynamics of his sextet. It was truly the best flamenco guitar concert I have ever seen.
Tomatito enveloped each participant on stage with his eyes, smile and energy. He filled the center with the expression of joy and passion. Each and every artist was exceptional, and each detail was naturally elegant and beautiful. It was the most cariño I have ever seen on stage.
The connection between Tomatito and his second guitarist (and son), José del Tomate was one of affection and respect punctuated by a poignant embrace after José’s solo (taranto). The energy between Tomatito and percussionist, Piraña, was palpable. Truly, never have I seen two musicians so deeply entrenched in each other’s music. It can only be described as awesome.
Singer Kiki Cortiñas’ voice has a sweetness and clarity that cut through the space like a ray of light. Guillermo Campos Jimenez’ can only be described as flamencquísimo. His cante por bulería felt like breathing fresh air – after being locked away for so long you forgot what fresh air feels like.
This concert reminded me of everything I love about flamenco, which is sometimes hard to keep straight so far away from Spain.
So… awed and humbled, I joined them for a bite after the show. I had met dancer, José Maya years before when I was living in Madrid. Piraña went to drop his things at the hotel and we grabbed a table at AZ88. About 20 minutes later, Guillermo and the master himself arrived with Piraña.
Tomatito and I talked until 2am. I translated for enthusiastic fans who wanted to share flamenco stories and buy wine for the table. We talked about world music, touring, beer, his joy in sharing the stage with his son, his home-town Almería, the ocean, and muscles. We listened to beautiful women at our table sing rancheras, jazz, and blues.
He met everyone’s eye with a straight, respectful and gentle gaze. His chill demeanor, willingness to give everyone his time and attention, and his patient and generous spirit left a great impression and left me so happy… I fell asleep riding the wave of that energy.
It was really the perfect night.