Diego Amador is the youngest, and some argue the most adventurous, of the brothers Amador, a family that from the 70s set out to renew flamenco and open it up to new musical horizons. Raimundo, the oldest, is BB King's side man of choice. Rafael was the leader of Pata Negra, a rock / flamenco fusion group. So what about the Diego? He is multi instrumentalist who can perform on guitar, bass and piano as well as vocals. Amazingly, he is entirely self-taught.
After being spotted by a couple of Blue Note directors while soloing at a jazz festival, he was encouraged to produce an album of flamenco tracks on piano. And this is the result - the acclaimed Piano Jondo. Jondo is the word flamencos use describe 'real' traditional flamenco, as opposed to pop influenced 'Gypsy Kings' style uptempo stuff. So how 'Jondo' is this? Well, not very, in my honest opinion. It owes more to jazz, blues and latin music than the title lets on.
The best tunes are the uptempo ones, bulerias, buleria por solea and the tanguillos in particular, are handled with gusto. But I'm not sure what the intention was with the seguiriya. What should have been a slow paced, mournful lament seems a bit of a mess and becomes unrecognisable. Elsewhere, Diego Amador gets it right on the nose interpreting the taranta, which starts off with a whimsical falseta and modulates it until it finishes in an emotionally charged flourish, evoking all the despair of the dispossessed.
So there is plenty of good to say about this recording. But it doesn't come across as flamenco enough. Of course, there is always the argument that that's because he is on the piano. But that argument doesn't stand. Flamenco will always sound flamenco irrespective of what instrument it's played on. Here, we get jazz, blues and latin chords all thrown into the mix, which is fine - just don't call it 'Jondo'.
But maybe one day, when he is brave enough, and mature enough, he will revisit this idea and produce an album of true flamenco - on the piano. An album that reflects flamenco's rich musical heritage, and one that emanates from the true foundations of flamenco - the souls of the dispossessed.