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Juan Martin in Manchester. Review.   You are logged in as Guest
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Juan Martin in Manchester. Review. 

Last night saw Juan Martin and a trio of entertainers from Spain
descend into the chill drizzle of Manchester,s NEC centre.

The 42 million pound state of the art Bridgewater Hall is about as
unflamenco a venue as the mind can conjure. Seating almost three and
a half thousand spectators, (maybe three-quarters full last night)
this austere home of the Halle Orchestra is designed for one thing:
musical appreciation. In that, it has few equals. Sitting beneath a
space-age steel structural canopy,the large, gleaming,almost white,
two-level floor would do justice to a world ballroom championship
venue. The customary three straight-backed chairs and floor mikes of
the performers looked almost appologetic against the deep purple
richness of the backdrop that, for the night, hid the mighty master
organ from sight.

There were no filmy curtains, silhouette shows or anvils beating, ala
Paco Pena, and not a castanet in sight, just Juan Martin as lead
guitarist and soloist, one cantaor and two young dancers. The
Cantaor, Chato Velez (after his home village of Velez Malaga)doubled
as second guitarist, the male dancer played cajon,(sparingly and in
complimentary mode rather then a Gene Krupa wanna-be) both dancers
and the cantaor payed palmas and, surprisingly, audible pitos.

Juan Martin is a frequent and experienced campaigner in the art of
touring and entertaining foreign audiences, (as Manchester University
is home to many Spanish student and the city has several Spanish
restaurants, the crowd contained a sizeable segment of homies) and
the reception was warm and deserved. Reviewer shock one came when I
went to purchase a programme. There were none on the night. Shock two
came when the reason for this became quickly apparent; the advertised
programme of mainly ida y vuelte palos, guajiras, colombianas and
cuban-inspired rumbas had dissapeared in favour of...???

The Show:

We were soon to be pleasantly surprised. The maestro appeared and
immediately went into a solo tarantas. The rich black chords of this
palo needed no programme note and it is a palo Martin does so well.He
followed it with a lively and traditionally easily identifiable
zapateado and the reviewer began to relax. After warm applause, senor
Martin made the lack of a programme a non entity as he told the
audience briefly what he was doing.(my touch of self satisfaction
dissappeared as the little bald guy with glasses sitting beside us,
who now knew as much as me, informed his wife in a stage-whisper,that
they had just heard a "zippadeedoodah" Hmmmm.

The next item was a lively alegrias in perfect compas, and the young
gypsy girl dancer from Cadiz made mincemeat of it, intersparsed with
the surprisingly good voice of the Malagan cantaor. It is pointless
to state it finished por bulerias; almost everything does and, IMO,
its entry is intruding fuerther and further into palo space..however,
it was punchy, well worked and, amidst the clever lighting that threw
the dancer's shadow hugely onto the side walls, highly audience

A darkened stage and sigueryas sobered down the alegrias ambience and
this was sung with respect and well danced by the young male bailoro
(unfortunately, this is where the programme was needed as I didn't
get his name).Walking canes appeared and beat out the contra tiempo
rythmn as the dancer displayed his art, a touch reminiscent of
Antonio Gadez and Mario Maya with clever balanced turns that had no
pueblo heritage but rather that of the ballet class. The sigueryas,
(spoiled for me with one touch of Charlie Chaplin vaudeville in
kicking the walking cane around, became the inevitable por bulerias,
but well done and indisputably flamenco based. Faultless compas
throughout. Rumba, unashamed fun, on two guitars with lively contra-
tiempo palmas ended the first session to great applause and

A quick visit to el aire libre for a tobacco injection and we were
back in our seats in time for part two: Again Martin entertained with
an opening solo that displayed perfectly his guitar virtuosity. A
Moorish influenced own composition without any title I heard, but
reminiscent of his "Girls of Algiers" from the "Picasso Portraits"
album saw him wandering into aras beyond the twelfth fret that I wold
need a passport to visit. His control of the fretboard and clever
percussive effects, whilst making a determined effort to avoid all
the hackneyed descriptive phrases so beloved of flamenco reviewers,
made me close my eyes and be in another place, another era;
the sultana's garden in Granada's Alhambra was not too hard on the
immagination in the warm theatre and.....enough. Masterly invocation
of Moorish influence, flamenco, no, excellent music, decidedly!

A two guitar bulerias instrumental, a well sung por tangos of the
Juan Villar mode accompanied by another great dancing attack from
the young female Gaditano and a clever shadow of a massive abanico
(fan) across the walls whilst the male dancer did palmas and cajon
and rapturous applause ended a lively opening. Then it was the turn
of the male bailoro to portray solea. Dressed in a plain black street
suit and waistcoat that neither paid homage to high fashion or threw
back to national dress, this dancer showed great control of his
taconeo and could be forgiven for demonstrating his craft with a few
clever crowd pleasers. His solea was compas correct and his bulerias
ending had much of the gypsy, ballet-free, humourous and intimate
approach that put the audience completely in his pocket.

The fin de fiesta was typical, dancing cantaor (even Juan dropped his
guitar and shuffled a few steps) singing young female dancer(hey, a
good cante voice going begging here) boy, girl duet ala Antonio
Serano/Maria del Mar berlanga of a previous troupe and three encores
to enthusiastic and well deserved applause brought a thoroughly
enteraining evening to a close. Lacking the intimacy of tablao, but
bringing it to the masses with traditional respect, it was great
value for money.

Footnotes. A quickly grabbed couple of minutes with the maestro
amidst the throng of autograph hunting CD buyers, brought this: For
the guitar nuts:
Me: "Juan, what guitars are you playing. " Mainly a Conde Hermanos
with a rosewood back and unusually white top. My second guitar is by
a Granada luthier, Juan Carmona."
"And flamenco itself, where do you see it heading? Will it make a
return to the traditional, or are we about to be "Chilled to death"
(brought a wide grin)
"Well, flamenco is changing, there's no doubt people are doing a lot
of things now they didn't do before"
Me: "Like the fact that no one is reording traditional cante at this
"Well, I have just released a new CD with Chato, and he sings the
traditional stuff on it. He's very good".....

And away from flamenco and into the Manchester night air we went with
me clutching (yes I confess it) a signed copy of "Camino Latino". Well
, I just have to know what's happening...don't I? (((-:

  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 25 2004 10:29:24

Posts: 5993
Joined: Jul. 6 2003
From: Italy

RE: Juan Martin in Manchester. Review. (in reply to Guest

Nice one Jim, thanks for taking the time to tell us about the evening. I love the theatre


Foro Flamenco founder and Admin
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 25 2004 19:18:38

RE: Juan Martin in Manchester. Review. (in reply to Escribano

Cheers Simon. My pleasure.

Just a note of interest for guitarists: Much of the evening's work was done capo-free, and those palos where it was used never went beyond the second fret. I was just blown away with Martin's control of the fretboard and the way he wandered away from the sound hole to create tone and colour by using the guitar itself to do it. His percussion was dynamite and he used the snare drum effect a couple of times in bulerias. Noticed he tuned down the bass stings a couple of times also. I've seen him live several times and he's a nice guy to talk to.

  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 25 2004 21:03:28

Posts: 7051
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Scotland

RE: Juan Martin in Manchester. Review. (in reply to Guest

Great review Jim,
Wow that's a pretty big audience for a Flamenco show!
They must have made a few bob.
I've never seen JM live, only on TV where he's always played either a Zambra or fairly bland Rumba, so that sort of put me off, but sounds like his live show is much better.
Did you go down to Manchester especially for the show, or were you in the area generally?


  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 26 2004 8:28:04

RE: Juan Martin in Manchester. Review. (in reply to Ron.M

Hi Ron.

I live in Bolton, about 14 miles away, but luckily work in Manchester. The wife travelled in and we caught a snack then went on to a Spanish bar, "El Rincon", for copas before the show. That, the show and talking with the man made for a very enjoyable experience.

I have long been an admirer of Juan Martin and his "Juan Martin-The solo album" is very
much a flamenco album. Like PDL, he has wandered into other mediums but this just shows what a great musician he really is. Catch him live if you ever get the chance. It's well worth it and I guarantee you won't be disappointed..

Regards. Jim..
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 26 2004 10:34:50
Jon Boyes

Posts: 1377
Joined: Jul. 10 2003

RE: Juan Martin in Manchester. Review. (in reply to Ron.M

Just out of interest, you can get Juan Martin's live show on video (at the Barbican theatre in London). Sound quality is a little iffy though.

  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 26 2004 10:38:26
Jim Opfer

Posts: 1876
Joined: Jul. 19 2003
From: Glasgow, Scotland.

RE: Juan Martin in Manchester. Review. (in reply to Ron.M


That was a great review and thanks for taking the time to provide it for us all.

I'm sorry to say that I just can't get excited about Juan Martin! There was one concert here in Glasgow when he was doing this 'I've just discovered flamenco roots in Arabic music' thing, when he came on with an Udd player and did a fusion thing which involved some very traditional falsettas and Udd music, my wife and I were half asleep during the first half and had to leave at the interval.

One other time he turned up at a guitar festival in Ayrshire and held a 'workshop' I was daft enough to go along with my guitar only to sit there for an hour listening to Juan talk about Flamenco and demonstrate on his guitar. That would have been fine however, the thing was that he had nothing new to say and was really relying on the thought that his audience would have no idea about flamenco so he could regurgitate all this dross about 'blue notes' in Tarranta and thake 15 minutes explaining the compas of Solea.
I asked him why he had his Conde and not his Gerundino with him? A moments panic in his face and then he drifted into this thing about the Conde being Macho with big sound whereas his Gerundino had a sound that was like the 'red earth of Andulucia'.

It's a shame really, his first LP released here around 1969/70 was quite good but since than he seems to have lost his way in favour of his commercial endevours.

Just my opinion.

  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 12 2004 11:32:49
el ted


Posts: 466
Joined: Nov. 13 2003

RE: Juan Martin in Manchester. Review. (in reply to Guest

nice to see a favourable review of juan who I think of as a very english style player.
ps: jim, I think the ud player you mentioned is called Adel Saleme. I saw that show too.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 13 2004 15:37:50

RE: Juan Martin in Manchester. Review. (in reply to el ted

Hi Jim.

In fairness, some of your comments cannot be argued with. Juan Martin has a decided eye for commercial channels and has wandered along most musical paths. I have seen him three times in solo concerts and always enjoyed them, and luckily, missed out on the rest.((-;

I will confess the CD I bought 'Flamenco Latino' was a waste of money as it has little
new to offer. 'Juan Martin- The solo album' was straight unadorned flamenco and I must say I bought and enjoyed 'Picasso Portraits'. which had a very Arabic element to it. He did at one time accompany some creditable flamenco cantaoros, including Rafael Romero, so he knows his art, but, as you rightly said, he should have stuck with flamenco.

I have the video of his Barbican show with Jarrillo singing and dancers David Morales,
Antonio Serrano and Maria del mar Berlanga. That, I enjoyed. Straight flamenco with no uds, flutes or bongos. When you can play a guitar as well as Martin, you shouldn't need them. Commercialism in flamenco has a lot to answer for.


  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 14 2004 22:21:52
Miguel de Maria

Posts: 3523
Joined: Oct. 20 2003
From: Phoenix, AZ

RE: Juan Martin in Manchester. Review. (in reply to Guest

Jim, I only know Juan from his 3-tape educational series, and I have to say his guitar playing looked downright ordinary there. I'm intrigued by your talk of his being a maestro. Do you think he plays in the same category as PDL? Tomatito? Vicente Amigo? Or Sabicas? I'm not making fun of him, I'm actually just interested in your opinion on this matter. I like flashy guitar players, not just ones better than me.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 16 2004 15:08:35


Posts: 389
Joined: Aug. 18 2003

RE: Juan Martin in Manchester. Review. (in reply to Miguel de Maria

One thing in Juan's credit is, when I saw him, he played without amplification, well it looked that way, and his sound filled a large concert hall, his style of playing, and the higher action of his guitar alows this, where Tomotito and all the modern style players, with low action necks need amplifying, and backing groups to sound good, but Martin and Pena, can pull it off solo, but it only works with a more trad style.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 16 2004 22:17:49
Jon Boyes

Posts: 1377
Joined: Jul. 10 2003

RE: Juan Martin in Manchester. Review. (in reply to Billyboy


ORIGINAL: Billyboy
One thing in Juan's credit is, when I saw him, he played without amplification, well it looked that way, and his sound filled a large concert hall,

In Juan's Live at the Barbican Theatre video, he is clearly miked up.

  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 19 2004 8:31:27
Jon Boyes


Posts: 1377
Joined: Jul. 10 2003


Post has been moved to the Recycle Bin at Apr. 19 2004 12:30:11
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 19 2004 8:54:30

RE: Juan Martin in Manchester. Review. (in reply to Miguel de Maria


If we all had the same favourites life would be no fun and a lot of musicians would be out of work. As a non musician, maybe I have a different perspective than guitar players, for example. I have seen J M up close three times (once about 8 feet away) and always been impressed by his ability to produce authentic sound as opposed to just watching his technique.

I agree JM's commercial aspect offerings are less than scintilating and sometimes very mainstream. All I can add is I let my ears decide. Might be interesting to listen to flamenco recordings for say a month, without actually being told who was playing. I think in this way we might not have pre-conceived concepts as to what to expect from
known musicians. Maybe I've just been lucky in not seeing a bad JM concert. If I knew nothing at all about flamenco his "Miro's Metronome" would impress me in the same way as PDL's "Almoraima" ((-:

  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 19 2004 9:31:19
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