Spain Arts & Culture (www.spainculture.us), a new and rising force in Spain's cultural diplomacy arsenal, is putting together an unprecedented calendar of performances throughout the United States in 2017. Here in Washington they've been active for some time at the 'Former Residence of the Ambassadors of Spain', a distinguished mansion on 16th St. NW which is ideal as an exhibit space and includes an intimate performance venue and lovely patio for cocktail receptions as well. Spain/culture.us has grown into an interesting force for the promotion of cutting edge architecture and design, photography and art exhibits, literary soirees and plenty of classical and popular music from Spain.
Recently Spain Arts & Culture produced the second in a trilogy of jazz and flamenco fusion shows on their schedule. The first concert was performed in November of 2016 and featured the highly acclaimed Jorge Pardo (here is our review). The second concert was presented at the 'Former Residence...' on Tuesday, January 24th, 2017. It featured the outstanding saxophonist and 'cantaor' (flamenco singer) Antonio Lizana. The third performance in this series will debut on March 9th and consists of a duo composed of Spain's foremost jazz bassist, Javier Colina and the composer/musician/singer, Josemi Carmona, a former member of the late, great Ketama, one of Spain's most famed, innovative and revolutionary bands put together by the Carmona brothers (Antonio and Juan) and featuring their cousin Josemi. More on that at another time...
Barely 30 years old, Antonio Lizana is steeped in the flamenco traditions of his native Cadiz where he learned the structure and verse of the idiom from a very early age. Later he would go on to study jazz in Madrid and the north of Spain. When you watch this young man with the soft, high pitched voice you're struck not only by his virtuosity on the saxophone, but by his modest, almost shy demeanor. And yet as soon as he belts out his first flamenco solo you realize there is a deep, sensual reservoir of gypsy tradition in his voice. A true 'cantaor' with a powerful lament and a biting flamenco rumba sound.
On a cold Tuesday evening in late January of 2017 Lizana brought to Washington his trio and spent a bit over an hour delighting his audience with a mixture of pure flamenco singing and jazz improvisation. It was a delightful combination that left the sold out crowd of more than 100 patrons thirsting for more.
The Lizana trio opened the session with 'Sentir', the first tune from their latest recording 'Quimeras del Mar'. At one point Lizana engaged the entire audience in a call and response chorus that left everyone smiling and laughing. Among the most memorable songs he performed was the upbeat, frolicking 'Alegrias de Cadiz' and the fandanguillo infused, 'Viento del Mar', a tune he wrote and performed as a duet with the dazzling Chambao and their lead singer La Mari. The lyrics begin like this:
"Sopla, viento de la mar
Sopla, en la madruga'
A que el aire traiga una sonrisa
Sopla, que hoy la luna me recuerda a ella
Con la carita pintailla de estrellas..."
This is what Lizana does, he blows ('sopla') his saxophone in the wind and brings a smile to people's hearts. Don't miss out on the next jazz and flamenco spectacle on March 9th.
Spain/Culture.us is producing more and more interesting spectacles and activities with a wide range of artists and cultural figures who would not otherwise be presented here. Add their website to your favorite places and see what this vanguard cultural project has to offer.