Friday Night in San Francisco is a 1981 live album by Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucía. It was described by jazz author and critic Walter Kolosky as “a musical event that could be compared to the Benny Goodman Band’s performance at Carnegie Hall in 1938 … [it] may be considered the most influential of all live acoustic guitar albums”.
All the tracks except “Guardian Angel” were recorded live at The Warfield Theatre on 5 December 1980, in San Francisco; “Guardian Angel” was recorded at Minot Sound, in White Plains, New York.
Al Di Meola
Al Di Meola (born Al Laurence Dimeola July 22, 1954) is an American jazz, jazz fusion, and world music guitarist. Albums such as Friday Night in San Francisco have earned him both artistic and commercial success with fans throughout the world.
Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, into an Italian family with roots in Cerreto Sannita, a small town north east of Naples, Di Meola grew up in Bergenfield, where he attended Bergenfield High School. He has been a resident of Old Tappan, New Jersey.
When he was eight years old, he was inspired by Elvis Presley and the Ventures to start playing guitar. His teacher directed him toward jazz standards. He cites as influences jazz guitarists George Benson and Kenny Burrell and bluegrass and country guitarists Clarence White and Doc Watson.
He attended Berklee College of Music in the early 1970s. At nineteen, he was hired by Chick Corea to replace Bill Connors in the pioneering jazz fusion band Return to Foreverwith Stanley Clarke and Lenny White. He recorded three albums with them. He could play so fast that he was sometimes criticized for playing too many notes.
As Return to Forever was disbanding around 1976, Di Meola began recording solo albums on which he demonstrated mastery of jazz fusion, flamenco, and Mediterranean music. His album Elegant Gypsy (1977) received a gold certification. In 1980 he recorded the live album Friday Night in San Francisco with Paco de Lucía and John McLaughlin.
In the beginning of his career, as evidenced on his first solo album Land of the Midnight Sun(1976), Di Meola was noted for his technical mastery and extremely fast, complex guitar solos and compositions. But even on his early albums, he had begun to explore Mediterranean cultures and acoustic genres like flamenco. Good examples are “Mediterranean Sundance” and “Lady of Rome, Sister of Brazil” from the Elegant Gypsy album (1977). His early albums were influential among rock and jazz guitarists. Di Meola continued to explore Latin music within jazz fusion on Casino and Splendido Hotel. He exhibited a more subtle touch on acoustic numbers “Fantasia Suite for Two Guitars” from the Casino album and on the best-selling live album with McLaughlin and de Lucia, Friday Night in San Francisco. The latter album became one of the most popular live albums for acoustic guitar, selling more than two million copies worldwide.
With Scenario, he explored the electronic side of jazz in a collaboration with Jan Hammer(later of Miami Vice theme fame). Beginning with this change, he further expanded his horizons with the acoustic album Cielo e Terra. He began to incorporate the Synclavierguitar synthesizer on mid-1980s albums such as Soaring Through a Dream. By the 1990s, Di Meola recorded albums closer to world music and modern Latin styles than jazz.
However, in 2006 he rediscovered his love of the electric guitar, and the DVD of his concert at the Leverkusen Jazz Festival 2006 bears the subtitle Return to Electric Guitar.
Born 4 January 1942 in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England, also known as Mahavishnu John McLaughlin, is an English guitarist, bandleader and composer. His music includes many genres of jazz which he coupled with elements of rock, Indian classical music, Western classical music, flamenco and blues to become one of the pioneering figures in fusion.
After contributing to several key British groups of the early 1960s McLaughlin made Extrapolation, his first album as a bandleader, in 1969. He then moved to the U.S., where he played with Tony Williams’s group Lifetime and then with Miles Davis on his electric jazz-fusion albums In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew, Jack Johnson, and On the Corner
His 1970s electric band, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, performed a technically virtuosic and complex style of music that fused electric jazz and rock with Indian influences.
McLaughlin has been cited as an influence by a number of prominent musicians. He is a Grammy award winner and has been awarded multiple “Guitarist of the year” and “Best Jazz Guitarist” awards from magazines such as Down Beat and Guitar Player based on reader polls. In 2003, he was ranked 49th in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”. In 2009, Down BeatMagazine included McLaughlin in its unranked list of “75 Great Guitarists”, in the “Modern Jazz Maestros” category. In 2012, Guitar World magazine ranked him #63 on its top 100 list. In 2010, guitarist Jeff Beck called him “the best guitarist alive”. McLaughlin was also referred to as the best guitarist alive by Pat Metheny.
John McLaughlin is a leading guitarist in jazz and jazz fusion. His style has been described as one that incorporates aggressive speed, technical precision, and harmonic sophistication. He is known for using non-Western scales and unconventional time signatures. Indian music has had a profound influence on his style, and, it has been written, he is one of the first westerners to play Indian music to Indian audiences. He was influential in bringing jazz fusion to popularity with Miles Davis, playing with Davis on five of his studio albums, including Davis’ first gold-certified Bitches Brew, and one live album, Live-Evil. Speaking of himself, McLaughlin has stated that the guitar is simply “part of his body,” and he feels more comfortable when a guitar is present.
From a family of musicians (his mother being a concert violinist), McLaughlin studied violin and piano as a child and took up the guitar at the age of 11, exploring styles from flamenco to the jazz of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli. He moved to London from Yorkshire in the early 1960s, playing with Alexis Korner and the Marzipan Twisters before moving on to Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, the Graham Bond Organisation (in 1963) and Brian Auger. During the 1960s he often had to support himself with session work which he often found unsatisfying but which enhanced his playing and sight-reading. Also, he gave guitar lessons to Jimmy Page. In 1963, Jack Bruce formed the Graham Bond Quartet with Bond, Ginger Baker and John McLaughlin. They played an eclectic range of music genres, including bebop, blues and rhythm and blues.
In January 1969, McLaughlin recorded his debut album Extrapolation in London. It prominently features John Surman on saxophone and Tony Oxley on drums. The album’s Post-bop style is quite different than McLaughlin’s later fusion works, though it gradually developed a strong reputation among critics by the mid-1970s.
McLaughlin moved to the U.S. in 1969 to join Tony Williams’ group Lifetime. A recording from the Record Plant, NYC, dated 25 March 1969, exists of McLaughlin jamming with Jimi Hendrix. McLaughlin recollects “we played one night, just a jam session. And we played from 2 until 8, in the morning. I thought it was a wonderful experience! I was playing an acoustic guitar with a pick-up. Um, flat-top guitar, and Jimi was playing an electric. Yeah, what a lovely time! Had he lived today, you’d find that he would be employing everything he could get his hands on, and I mean acoustic guitar, synthesizers, orchestras, voices, anything he could get his hands on he’d use!”
He played on Miles Davis’ albums In A Silent Way, Bitches Brew (which has a track named after him), Live-Evil, On the Corner, Big Fun (where he is featured soloist on “Go Ahead John”) and A Tribute to Jack Johnson. In the liner notes to Jack Johnson, Davis called McLaughlin’s playing “far in”. McLaughlin returned to the Davis band for one night of a week-long club date, recorded and released as part of the album Live-Evil and of the Cellar Door boxed set. His reputation as a “first-call” session player grew, resulting in recordings as a sideman with Miroslav Vitous, Larry Coryell, Joe Farrell, Wayne Shorter, Carla Bley, The Rolling Stones, and others.
He recorded Devotion in early 1970 on Douglas Records (run by Alan Douglas), a high-energy, psychedelic fusion album that featured Larry Youngon organ (who had been part of Lifetime), Billy Rich on bass and the R&B drummer Buddy Miles. Devotion was the first of two albums he released on Douglas. In 1971 he released My Goal’s beyond in the US, a collection of unamplified acoustic works. Side A (“Peace One” and “Peace Two”) offers a fusion blend of jazz and Indian classical forms, while side B features melodic acoustic playing McLaughlin on such standards as “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”, by Charles Mingus whom McLaughlin considered an important influence. My Goal’s Beyond was inspired by McLaughlin’s decision to follow the Indian spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy, to whom he had been introduced in 1970 by Larry Coryell’s manager. The album was dedicated to Chinmoy, with one of the Guru’s poems printed on the liner notes. It was on this album that McLaughlin took the name “Mahavishnu”.
In 1973 McLaughlin collaborated with Carlos Santana, also a disciple of Sri Chinmoy, on an album of devotional songs, Love Devotion Surrender, which featured recordings of Coltrane compositions including a movement of A Love Supreme. McLaughlin has also worked with the jazz composers Carla Bley and Gil Evans.
In 1979 he formed a short-lived funk fusion power trio named the Trio of Doom with Tony Williams on drums and Jaco Pastorius on bass. Their only live performance was on 3 March 1979 at the Havana Jam Festival (2–4 March 1979) in Cuba, part of a US State Department sponsored visit to Cuba. Later on 8 March 1979 the group recorded the songs they had written for the festival at Columbia Studios, New York, on 52nd Street. Recollections from this performance are captured on Ernesto Juan Castellanos’s documentary Havana Jam ’79.
The Mahavishnu Orchestra
McLaughlin’s 1970s electric band, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, included violinist Jerry Goodman, keyboardist Jan Hammer, bassist Rick Laird, and drummer Billy Cobham. They performed a technically difficult and complex style of music that fused electric jazz and rock with Eastern and Indian influences. This band helped establish fusion as a new and growing style. McLaughlin’s playing at this time was distinguished by fast solos and non-western musical scales.
The Mahavishnu Orchestra’s personality clashes were as explosive as their performances, and consequently the first incarnation of the group split in late 1973 after two years and three albums, including a live recording entitled Between Nothingness and Eternity. In 2001 the Lost Trident Sessions album was released; recorded in 1973 but shelved when the group disbanded. McLaughlin then reformed the group with Narada Michael Walden (drums), Jean-Luc Ponty (violin), Ralphe Armstrong (bass), and Gayle Moran (keyboards and vocals), and a string and horn section (McLaughlin referred to this as “the real Mahavishnu Orchestra”). This incarnation of the group recorded two more albums, Apocalypse with the London Symphony Orchestra and Visions of the Emerald Beyond. A scaled-down quartet was formed with McLaughlin, Walden on drums, Armstrong on bass and Stu Goldberg on keyboards and synthesiser, which generated a third “Mahavishnu 2” recording in 1976 largely due to contractual obligations, Inner Worlds.
McLaughlin then became absorbed in his acoustic playing with his Indian classical music based group Shakti (energy). McLaughlin had already been studying Indian classical music and playing the veena for several years. The group featured Lakshminarayanan L. Shankar (violin), Zakir Hussain (tabla), Thetakudi Harihara Vinayakram (ghatam) and earlier Ramnad Raghavan (mridangam). The group recorded three albums: Shakti (1975) A Handful of Beauty (1976), and Natural Elements (1977). Based on both Carnatic and Hindustanistyles, along with extended use of konnakol, the band introduced ragas and Indian percussion to many jazz aficionados.
In this group McLaughlin played a custom-made steel-string J-200 acoustic guitar made by Abe Wechter and the Gibson guitar company that featured two tiers of strings over the soundhole: a conventional six-string configuration and seven strings strung underneath at a 45-degree angle – these were independently tuneable “sympathetic strings” much like those on a sitar or veena. The instrument’s vina-like scalloped fretboard enabled McLaughlin to bend strings far beyond the reach of a conventional fretboard. McLaughlin grew so accustomed to the freedom it provided him that he had the fretboard scalloped on his Gibson Byrdland electric guitar.
McLaughlin also appeared on Stanley Clarke’s School Days and numerous other fusion albums. They later recorded three tracks at CBSStudios in New York, 8 March 1979. The same year he teamed up with flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía and jazz guitarist Larry Coryell(replaced by Al Di Meola in the early 1980s) as the Guitar Trio. For the tour of fall 1983 they were joined by Dixie Dregs guitarist Steve Morsewho opened the show as a soloist and participated with The Trio in the closing numbers. The Trio reunited in 1996 for a second recording session and a world tour. Also in 1979 McLaughlin recorded the album Johnny McLaughlin: Electric Guitarist, the title on McLaughlin’s first business cards as a teenager in Yorkshire. This was a return to more mainstream jazz/rock fusion and to the electric instrument after three years of playing acoustic guitars.
The short-lived One Truth Band recorded one studio album, Electric Dreams, with L. Shankar on violins, Stu Goldberg on keyboards, Fernando Saunders on electric bass and Tony Smith on drums. After the dissolution of the One Truth Band, McLaughlin toured in a guitar duo with Christian Escoudé.
With the group Fuse One, he released two albums in 1980 and 1982.
In 1981 and 1982, McLaughlin recorded two albums, Belo Horizonte and Music Spoken Here with The Translators, a band of French and American musicians who combined acoustic guitar, bass, drums, sax, and violin with synthesizers. The Translators included McLaughlin’s future wife, classical keyboardist, Katia LaBeque.
From 1984 through to (circa) 1987, an electric five-piece operated under the name “Mahavishnu” (omitting the “Orchestra”). Two LPs were released, Mahavishnu and Adventures in Radioland. The former featured McLaughlin making extensive use of the Synclavier synthesizer, allied with a Roland guitar/controller. The first of the two albums was recorded with a line-up of McLaughlin, Bill Evans (saxophones), Jonas Hellborg (bass), Mitchel Forman (keyboards) and both Danny Gottlieb and Billy Cobham on drums. Initial advertising for concert dates in support of the album included Cobham’s name, but by the time the tour started in earnest, Gottlieb was in the band. Forman left at some point between the albums, to be replaced on keyboards by Jim Beard.
In tandem with Mahavishnu, McLaughlin worked in duo format (c. 1985–87) with bassist Jonas Hellborg, playing a number of concert dates, some of which were broadcast on radio and TV, but no commercial recordings were made.
In 1986 he appeared with Dexter Gordon in Bertrand Tavernier’s film Round Midnight. He also composed The Mediterranean Concerto, orchestrated by Michael Gibbs. The world premier featured McLaughlin and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. It was recorded in 1988 with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the London Symphony Orchestra. Unlike what is typical practice in classical music, the concerto includes sections where McLaughlin improvises. Also included on the recording were five duets between McLaughlin and his then-girlfriend Katia Labèque.
In the late ’80s McLaughlin began performing live and recording with a trio including percussionist Trilok Gurtu, and three bassists at various times; firstly Jeff Berlin, then Kai Eckhardt and finally Dominique DiPiazza. Berlin contributed to the trio’s live work only in 1988/89, and didn’t record with McLaughlin. The group recorded two albums: Live at The Royal Festival Hall and Que Alegria, the former with Eckhardt, and the latter with di Piazza for all but two tracks. These recordings saw a return to acoustic instruments for McLaughlin, performing on nylon-string guitar. On Live at the Royal Festival Hall McLaughlin utilised a unique guitar synth which enabled him to effectively “loop” guitar parts and play over them live. The synth also featured a pedal which provided sustain when pressed. McLaughlin played parts which sound overdubbed and creating lush soundscapes, aided by Gurtu’s unique percussive sounds. This approach is used to great effect in the track “Florianapolis”, among others.
In the early 1990s he toured with his trio on the Que Alegria album. By this time, Eckhardt had left, with McLaughlin and Gurtu joined by bass player Dominique Di Piazza. In the latter stages of this trio’s life, they were joined on tour by Katia Labeque alone, or by Katia and her sister Marielle, with footage of the latter configuration forming part of a documentary on the Labeque Sisters. Following this period he recorded and toured with The Heart of Things featuring Gary Thomas, Dennis Chambers, Matt Garrison, Jim Beardand Otmaro Ruíz. In 1993 he released a Bill Evans tribute album entitled Time Remembered: John McLaughlin Plays Bill Evans, with McLaughlin’s acoustic guitar backed by the acoustic guitars of the Aighetta Quartet and the acoustic bass of Yan Maresz. In recent times McLaughlin has toured with Remember Shakti.
In addition to original Shakti member Zakir Hussain, this group has also featured eminent Indian musicians U. Srinivas, V. Selvaganesh, Shankar Mahadevan, Shivkumar Sharma, and Hariprasad Chaurasia. In 1996, John McLaughlin, Paco de Lucia and Al Di Meola (known collectively as “The Guitar Trio”) reunited for a world tour and recorded an album of the same name. They had previously released a studio album entitled Passion, Grace, & Fire back in 1983. Meanwhile, in the same year of 1996 McLaughlin recorded The Promise. Also notable during the period were his performances with Elvin Jones and Joey DeFrancesco.
In 2003 he recorded a ballet score, Thieves and Poets, along with arrangements for classical guitar ensemble of favourite jazz standards and a three-DVD instructional video on improvisation entitled “This is the Way I Do It” (which contributed to the development of video lessons.) In June 2006 he released the post-bop/jazz fusion album Industrial Zen, on which he experimented with the Godin Glissentar as well as continuing to expand his guitar-synth repertoire.
In 2007 he left Universal Records and joined Abstract Logix. Recording sessions for his first album on that label took place in April. That summer, he began touring with a new jazz fusion quartet, the 4th Dimension, consisting of keyboardist/drummer Gary Husband, bassist Hadrian Feraud, and drummer Mark Mondesir. During the 4th Dimension’s tour, an “instant CD” entitled Live USA 2007: Official Bootleg was made available comprising soundboard recordings of six pieces from the group’s first performance. Following completion of the tour, McLaughlin sorted through recordings from each night to release a second MP3 download-only collection entitled, Official Pirate: Best of the American Tour 2007. During this time, McLaughlin also released another instructional DVD, The Gateway to Rhythm, featuring Indian percussionist and Remember Shakti bandmate Selva Ganesh Vinayakram (or V. Selvaganesh), focusing on the Indian rhythmic system of konnakol. McLaughlin also remastered and released a shelved 1980 project called The Trio of Doom, featuring jazz/fusion luminaries Jaco Pastorius and Tony Williams. The project had been aborted due to conflicts between Williams and Pastorius as well as what was at the time a mutual dissatisfaction with the results of their performance.
On 28 July 2007, McLaughlin performed at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival in Bridgeview, Illinois.
On 28 April 2008 the recording sessions from the previous year surfaced on the album Floating Point, featuring the rhythm section of keyboardist Louis Banks, bassist Hadrien Feraud, percussionist Sivamani and drummer Ranjit Barot bolstered on each track by a different Indian musician. Coinciding with the release of the album was another DVD, Meeting of the Minds, which offered behind the scenes studio footage of the Floating Point sessions as well as interviews with all of the musicians. He engaged in a late summer/fall 2008 tour with Chick Corea, Vinnie Colaiuta, Kenny Garrett and Christian McBrideunder the name Five Peace Band, from which came an eponymous double-CD live album in early 2009.
McLaughlin performed with Mahavishnu Orchestra drummer Billy Cobham at the 44th Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland, on 2 July 2010, for the first time since the band split up. In November 2010, a new book was released by Abstract Logix Books entitled Follow Your Heart- John McLaughlin Song by Song by Walter Kolosky, who also wrote the book Power, Passion and Beauty – The Story of the Legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra. The book discussed each song McLaughlin wrote and contained photographs never seen before.
Paco de Lucía
Francisco Gustavo Sánchez Gómez (21 December 1947 – 25 February 2014), known as Paco de Lucía , was a Spanish virtuoso flamenco guitarist, composer and producer. A leading proponent of the new flamenco style, he helped legitimize flamenco among the establishment in Spain, and was one of the first flamenco guitarists to cross over successfully into other genres of music such as classical and jazz. Richard Chapman and Eric Clapton, authors of Guitar: Music, History, Players, describe de Lucía as a “titanic figure in the world of flamenco guitar”, and Dennis Koster, author of Guitar Atlas, Flamenco, has referred to de Lucía as “one of history’s greatest guitarists”.
De Lucía was noted for his fast and fluent picados (fingerstyle runs). A master of contrast, he often juxtaposed picados and rasgueados (flamenco strumming) with more sensitive playing and was known for adding abstract chords and scale tones to his compositions with jazz influences. These innovations saw him play a key role in the development of traditional flamenco and the evolution of new flamenco and Latin jazz fusion from the 1970s. He received acclaim for his recordings with flamenco singer Camarón de la Isla in the 1970s, recording ten albums which are considered some of the most important and influential in flamenco history.
Some of de Lucía’s best known recordings include Río Ancho (later fused with Al Di Meola’s Mediterranean Sundance), Entre dos aguas, La Barrosa, Ímpetu, Cepa Andaluza and Gloria al Niño Ricardo. His collaborations with guitarists John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola and Larry Coryell in the late 1970s saw him gain wider popularity outside his native Spain. De Lucía formed the Paco de Lucía Sextet in 1981 with his brothers, singer Pepe de Lucía and guitarist Ramón de Algeciras, and collaborated with jazz pianist Chick Corea on their 1990 album, Zyryab. In 1992, he performed live at Expo ’92 in Seville and a year later on the Plaza Mayor in Madrid. After 2004 he greatly reduced his public performances, retiring from full touring, and typically only gave several concerts a year, usually in Spain and Germany and at European festivals during the summer months.
Paco de Lucía was born on 21 December 1947 as Francisco Sánchez Gómez in Algeciras, a city near the far southern point of Spain in the province of Cádiz. He was the youngest of the five children of flamenco guitarist Antonio Sánchez Pecino and Portuguese mother Luzia Gomes; his brothers include flamenco singer Pepe de Lucía and flamenco guitarist Ramón de Algeciras (now deceased). Playing in the streets as a young boy, there were many Pacos and Pablos in Algeciras. In Spain and Latin America, any of these children with common first names would be referred to as follows: ‘”Name of Child”, (son or daughter) of “Name of Mother,”‘ or “Paco (son) of Lucia” in his case, instead of using the child’s last name. Later, after learning to play the guitar and tasked with figuring out a way to bill himself, wanting to honor his Portuguese mother Lúcia Gomes, he adopted the stage name Paco de Lucía.
His father Antonio received guitar lessons from the hand of a cousin of Melchor de Marchena: Manuel Fernández (aka Titi de Marchena), a guitarist who arrived in Algeciras in the 1920s and established a school there. Antonio introduced Paco to the guitar at a young age and was extremely strict in his upbringing from the age of 5, forcing him to practice up to 12 hours a day, every day, to ensure that he could find success as a professional musician. At one point, his father took him out of school to concentrate solely on his guitar development. In a 2012 interview de Lucía stated that, “I learned the guitar like a child learns to speak.” Flamenco guitarist and biographer Donn Pohren and record producer José Torregrosa compared Paco’s relationship with his father to the relationship of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Leopold Mozart in the way both fathers “moulded their sons” into becoming world-class musicians, and both continued to dictate even after the latter became famous. Paco’s brother Ramón idolized Niño Ricardo, and taught his complex falsetasto his young brother, who would learn them with relative ease and change them to his own liking and embellish them. This initially angered Ramón, who considered Ricardo’s works to be sacred and thought his brother was showing off; but he soon began to respect his brother immensely, and came to realize that he was a prodigious talent, fuera de serie (out of the ordinary). As also with Ramón, Ricardo was Paco’s most important influence, and his first guitar hero; Paco said “all of us youngsters would look up to him, trying to learn from him and copy him.” In 1958, at age 11, Paco made his first public appearance on Radio Algeciras. That year, he met Sabicas for the first time in Málaga. A year later, he was awarded a special prize at the Festival Concurso International Flamenco de Jerez de la Frontera flamenco competition.
At the age of 14 he made his first record with his brother Pepe, Los Chiquitos de Algeciras (Kids of Algeciras). In the early 1960s, de Lucía toured with the flamenco troupe of dancer José Greco. In New York City in 1963, at the age of 15, he had his second encounter with Sabicas and his first encounter with Mario Escudero, both of whom became de Lucía’s mentors and later close friends. They urged him to start writing his own material, advice he took to heart. In 1964, he met Madrileño guitarist Ricardo Modrego with whom he recorded three albums: Dos guitarras flamencas (1964), 12 canciones de García Lorca para guitarra and 12 éxitos para 2 guitarras flamencas (1965). His early albums were traditional flamenco recordings and he recorded classics such as Malagueña on the 12 éxitos para 2 guitarras flamencas album. He toured again with José Greco in 1966 and recorded Ímpetu, a bulerias composed by Mario Escudero, for his debut solo album, La fabulosa guitarra de Paco de Lucía (1967). He appeared at the 1967 Berlin Jazz Festival. According to Gerhard Klingenstein, top jazz musicians who appeared at the festival (i.e. Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk), profoundly influenced de Lucía, and sparked a fascination for jazz that remained with him throughout his life.
In the late 1960s, de Lucía toured Europe with a group called Festival Flamenco Gitano and encountered other new talents in the flamenco world including singer Camarón de la Isla, with whom he enjoyed a fruitful collaboration between 1968 and 1977. They recorded ten albums together and received considerable acclaim. Richard Nidel said that their partnership was “central to the history of flamenco in the last quarter of the twentieth century.” Organizers began offering de Lucía lucrative contracts for concert tours in 1967, which he declined as he preferred to tour in company, which he did with his brother Ramón, de la Isla and other musicians. De Lucía recorded many albums with his brother, including Canciones andaluzas para 2 guitarras (1967), Dos guitarras flamencas en América Latina (1967), Fantasía flamenca de Paco de Lucía (1969), and 12 Hits para 2 guitarras flamencas y orquesta de cuerda (1969). They met Esteban Sanlucar in Buenos Aires and Juan Serrano in Detroit, and during 1970 spent considerable time in New York City where they grew close to Sabicas and Mario Escudero, playing together into the night.
De Lucía made a cameo appearance, dressed as a Mexican guitarist, in the 1971 western Hannie Caulder, playing the melody of Ken Thorne’s main theme over a string section. That year, he released the album El mundo Del flamenco, which included a version of Mario Escudero’s Ímpetu, a bulerías. Guitar International mentioned his “very aggressive” approach to playing Ímpetu. Escudero was a major influence on de Lucía during this period, inspiring him to explore new possibilities for flamenco. He began working with record producer José Torregrosa.
De Lucía’s 1972 release El duende flamenco de Paco de Lucía was considered a groundbreaking album in the flamenco community. As the 1970s progressed, de Lucía continued to produce groundbreaking albums and ventured into an increasingly unconventional and innovative style of flamenco with jazz influences. His next release, Fuente y caudal, acclaimed particularly for his Entre dos aguas, which has become arguably his best-known composition, and also for Solera and Cepa Andaluza. Entre dos aguas, a rumba featuring bongos with an electric bass, means “Between two waters,” referring to his home town of Algeciras, where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic. Biographer Pohren describes Cepa Andaluza as a “phenomenal” bulerías, which is “accompanied by palmas, shouts of encouragement and general jaleo, and makes one want to leap up and dance.” The album also features several other tracks named after Andalusian landmarks, a theme de Lucía continued in his later albums. The Fuente y caudal album was one of the best-selling Spanish records for several months and de Lucía and Torregrosa found that the additional instruments and approach away from traditional flamenco proved more popular with the general public. The early influences of the traditional players became increasingly less apparent as de Lucía embraced jazz and other influences, creating his own voice and distinct style, yet never venturing too far from his roots.
On 18 February 1975, de Lucía became the first-ever flamenco performer to perform at the Teatro Real of Madrid. He played a set with his brother Ramón, in front of a relatively young audience without the use of effects. Pohren said that de Lucía’s performance “was brilliant technically, and played a meaningful, moving, traditional brand of flamenco that did not betray what Paco had in store for the flamenco guitar in the future.” The recording was released as En vivo desde el Teatro Real. His 1976 album, Almoraima, was a wider success and featured Almoraima and Río Ancho. The album was named after a former convent of the same name located about 21 kilometres (13 mi) from Algeciras on the road to Jimena de la Frontera, which had recently been converted into a hotel complex. The album featured significant Arabic and jazz influences especially in the bulerías composition of the same name; the name Almoraima is of Arabic origin from the Moorishperiod. De Lucía performed on an episode of Parkinson on BBC in the UK, in which Michael Parkinson said “a marvelous young musician who is making his very first appearance on British television. His unconventional and modern approach to playing flamenco has already made him a big star in Europe, particularly in his native Spain.”
In 1977, de Lucía married Casilda Varela, the daughter of General Varela; they had three children. He released his final album, Castillo de Arena with Camarón de la Isla, The lyrics were written by Antonio Sánchez, with the exception of the bulerías Samara, which Sánchez and de la Isla wrote together. This would be his last LP with a singer for at least 15 years. He reportedly said that the human voice is “naturally too limited” and that he prefers the exploration of different instrumentalists; he also said a busy schedule was the reason for lack of recordings with singers. He performed extensively across the US and Europe during this period, increasing his popularity outside Spain and the flamenco community in Europe, and met many jazz, Latin and other musicians who continued to influence de Lucía’s evolution as a “Nuevo flamenco” player. He began to show a very keen interest in jazz fusion and rock, and in 1977 performed with Carlos Santana in the Plaza de toros de las Arenas bullring in Barcelona. He was invited by Al Di Meola to record on his “Mediterranean Sundance” piece for his album Elegant Gypsy. Despite considerable new interest in flamenco and de Lucía’s playing generated by the album, traditionalist flamenco critics did not approve of the piece and hated that many people considered Mediterranean Sundance flamenco music and frowned upon de Lucía. Di Meola informed the critics not to worry and that “Paco is not leaving flamenco, but expanding it.” In 1978, Paco and his brothers recorded Interpreta a Manuel de Falla, a classical effort of compositions by Manuel de Falla.
In 1979, de Lucía, John McLaughlin, and Larry Coryell formed The Guitar Trio and together made a tour of Europe and released a video recorded at London’s Royal Albert Hallentitled Meeting of the Spirits. Pohren said that de Lucía’s decision to work with musicians like McLaughlin, Di Meola, Coryell, and Chick Corea must have been an “exciting and stimulating” experience for him, given their technical musical knowledge and ability to improvise and said that they carried him “so far afield that at times he must have been profoundly confused, a man running the risk of losing his musical identity.” This concerned de Lucía, who said in a late 1990s interview, “I have never lost the roots in my music, because I would lose myself. What I have tried to do is have a hand holding onto tradition and the other scratching, digging in other places, trying to find new things I can bring into flamenco.”
The Guitar Trio continued touring in 1980. De Lucía reportedly suffered from headaches and backaches while performing because he found it difficult to improvise and follow McLaughlin and Coryell’s advanced knowledge of jazz improvisation. Paco professed, “Some people assume that they were learning from me, but I can tell you it was me learning from them. I have never studied music, I am incapable of studying harmony—I don’t have the discipline, playing with McLaughlin and Di Meola was about learning these things.” In 1981, Coryell was replaced with Di Meola, and The Guitar Trio released one of their most successful records, Friday Night in San Francisco, which sold over 1 million copies and generated a significant interest in flamenco music in America and Europe. It featured an extended combination of Mediterranean Sundance and Río Ancho; this became arguably the piece most associated with the musicians. De Lucía also formed the Paco de Lucía Sextet in 1981 (which included his brothers Ramón and Pepe), and released the first of its three albums that same year. On 30 August 1981, de Lucía performed a solo set at St. Goarshausen in Germany, where he performed Monasterio de Sal and Montino among others and later performed with The Guitar Trio. The event was broadcast on national WDR television.
In 1982, Paco put on a series of concerts with jazz pianist Chick Corea. Corea was a considerable influence on him in the 1980s and he and McLaughlin adapted a version of his piece Spain, performing it live together several times in the mid to late 1980s. He released a “Golden” double compilation album in 1982, La Guitarra de Oro de Paco de Lucía, covering Paco’s earliest recordings with Ricardo Modrego of Federico García Lorca songs to date, and featured two siguiriyas, a flamenco form in which he hadn’t indulged in his recordings since 1972. In 1983, the Trio released Passion, Grace & Fire, and he had an acting role in Carlos Saura’s highly acclaimed film Carmen, for which he was also nominated for a BAFTA Film Award for Best Score. De Lucía composed original film scores for several films in the 1980s, including The Hit, a 1984 film in which he provided the soundtrack with Eric Clapton, with a minor contribution by Roger Waters.
On his 1984 album, live… One Summer Night, De Lucía not only played guitar, but also filled the role of producer. Paco de Lucía has also appeared as himself on television in documentaries and TV shows and accepted a position as a judge at Seville’s 1984 Biena.
By the mid-1980s, both the Sextet and the Guitar Trio had reached its plateau and stopped performing together, although de Lucía would continue to perform with McLaughlin as a duo across Europe in 1986 and later. In a 1986 interview with Down Beat magazine, Di Meola said that the reason for the breakdown was that their performances were designed to “drive the audience berserk” with a display of astonishing virtuosity and that they had run out of new spectacular fast runs to impress the audiences. Di Meola remarked that the music had become too “wild and crazy” and that he preferred to explore the quieter side of music, something Paco also felt, saying that he preferred “controlled expression to velocity.” In May 1986, he performed at the Centro de Bellas Artes Rock music festival alongside the likes of Earl Klugh, Spyro Gyra, and Dave Valentin. In 1987, de Lucía performed for the first time in the Soviet Union, and went back to his roots with his highly successful release, Siroco. Siroco is often cited as his best album and one of the greatest flamenco albums of all time.
His compositions La Cañada, the opening track, a tango called La Barrosa, an alegrías named after the Playa la Barrosa in the province of Cadiz, and Gloria al Niño Ricardo, a soléa, received considerable attention and are considered modern flamenco classics. Eric Clapton and Richard Chapman described La Barrosa, a sweet alegrías played in B major, as, “full of effortless delicacy with cascading phrases.” “Gloria al Niño Ricardo” is dedicated to Niño Ricardo who was de Lucía’s “first hero” of the guitar. Several of his compositions from that album form the staple of his contemporary concert performances, and he often begins his concerts with La Cañada. In 1989, de Lucía refused to perform at the bullring in Seville with Plácido Domingo and Julio Iglesias.
Although the sextet had declined after 1986, in 1990 they got together to record Zyryab, a groundbreaking Arabic flamenco/jazz album with jazz pianist Chick Corea and fellow virtuoso flamenco guitarist Manolo Sanlúcar. The album is named after Ziryab, an 8th–9th century Shiraz-born poet/musician at the Umayyad court in Córdoba, credited with introducing to Spain the Persian lute, which evolved into the Spanish guitar—and according to some, established flamenco itself. One track on the album, a tarantas, is dedicated to Sabicas. The album was critically well-received; Jazz Times praised the passion and rhythm of the musicians featuring on the album.
Until asked to perform and interpret Joaquín Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez in 1991, de Lucía was not proficient at reading musical notation. Biographer Pohren, however, at the time of writing his biography in 1992, said that he was still not proficient and had found a bizarre way of learning the piece, locking himself away. His performance with the orchestra under Edmon Colomer was highly acclaimed, a sensitive, atmospheric rendition that composer Rodrigo himself praised, describing it as “pretty, exotic, inspired” … I might add that Paco plays it with a great deal of feeling, far more than is normally heard. And that goes for the orchestra that backs him up.” In 1992, he performed live at the bullring at Seville Expo ’92, and a year later on the Plaza Mayor in Madrid, playing “La Barrosa”. In 1995, he and Bryan Adams recorded the hit song and video Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman on the soundtrack for the American film Don Juan DeMarco.
In 1996, his first “golden hits” album, Antología, was in the top 20 in Spain for at least 16 weeks, selling over 65,000 copies. In 1997, de Lucía performed in a tribute show to the assassinated Spanish politician Miguel Angel Blanco, alongside the likes of Julio Iglesias and Los Del Rio. In 1998 he released and produced “Luzia”, dedicated to his mother (whose name is spelled phonetically). It is considered to be one of de Lucia’s most complete and mature artistic statements.
De Lucía lived for five years in Yucatan, Mexico, but returned to his native Spain in 2003 after professing to have become really tired with spending his whole life touring for six to eight months a year, getting up at the crack of dawn and living in hotels. He continued to keep a holiday home in Mexico though and regularly visited with his family.
In 2004 he toured the United States and Canada with Seville flamenco singer La Tana, but subsequently greatly reduced his live performances in public. He retired from full touring, and would only give a few concerts a year, usually in Spain and Germany and at European festivals during the summer months. Pohren described de Lucía as “extremely timid and retiring”, saying that, “Being a very private person, [he] was dismayed at the ensuing popularity and lionization, and the increased pressure fame placed upon his shoulders, demanding that he constantly innovate and work harder to achieve technical and revolutionary perfection.”
In 2003, de Lucía released Integral (2003), a 26 CD Limited Edition Box Set, and Por Descubrir, a compilation album. In 2004, de Lucía released Cositas Buenas with Javier Limón. It was released on Blue Thumb Records by Universal Music Spain S.L., and features four bulerías, two rumba tracks, a tangos and a tientos. It won the Latin Grammy Award for Best Flamenco Album 2004.
In 2005, he was nominated for producer of the year by the Latin Grammy for La Tana’s “Tu, Ven a Mi”, which was De Lucía’s first recording where he directed another artist since working on Camarón de la Isla’s Potro de rabia y miel.
In 2004, he won the Prince of Asturias Awards in Arts, and on 23 March 2007, the University of Cadiz recognized de Lucía’s musical and cultural contributions by conferring on him the title of Doctor Honoris Causa. In 2010, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Berklee College of Music in Boston, and performed at the Montreux Festival. However, he is known some years to select countries where he doesn’t usually perform and played at Arena in Pula, Croatia in 2006 and 2010, and in Turkey, Morocco and Tunisia in 2013. He appeared at the 49th Carthage International Festival on 31 July, playing at the Roman Theatre.
De Lucía died of a heart attack on 25 February 2014, while on holiday with his family in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico. While playing soccer with his son on the beach, he asked his wife to take him to the hospital because he felt a “strange coolness in his throat.” He was taken to a hospital in the city of Yucatán, and was able to enter the emergency room on his own, but had to be helped into a gurney. Soon after, he lost consciousness and died. His brother Pepe commented that De Lucia had quit a two-pack a day smoking habit 20 days earlier, and vowed to take up more sports activity after the death of his friend Félix Grande. His remains were buried at a cemetery in Algeciras, Andalucía. De Lucía posthumously won the Latin Grammy Award for Album of the Year for his album Canción andaluza at the 2014 awards ceremony.
1.”Mediterranean Sundance” (Al Di Meola) / “Río Ancho” (Paco de Lucía) – 11:25◦Performed by: Paco de Lucía (left channel) and Al Di Meola (right channel)
2.”Short Tales of the Black Forest” (Chick Corea) – 8:39◦Performed by: John McLaughlin (left channel) and Al Di Meola (right channel)
1.”Frevo Rasgado” – 7:54 (Egberto Gismonti)◦Performed by: John McLaughlin (left channel) and Paco de Lucía (right channel)
2.”Fantasia Suite” (Al Di Meola) – 8:41◦Performed by: Paco de Lucía (left channel), John McLaughlin (middle channel) and Al Di Meola (right channel)
3.”Guardian Angel” (John McLaughlin) (studio recording) – 4:00◦Performed by: Paco de Lucía (left channel), John McLaughlin (middle channel) and Al Di Meola (right cannel)