Paco de Lucia died this week of a heart attack at age 66, while on vacation in Mexico.
de Lucia was a Spanish Flamenco guitarist whose varied collaborations were reflected in the Facebook tributes: from jazz bassists Christian McBride and Charlie Haden to rock bassist and singer/song writer Jack Bruce (Cream) and many others.
Said pianist Chick Corea, according to the New York Times’ obit: “Paco inspired me in the construction of my own musical world as much as Miles Davis and John Coltrane, or Bartok and Mozart.”
In 1981, de Lucia played on the album Friday Night in San Francisco with fellow guitarists John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola, which jazz critic Walter Kolosoky called “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.”
It introduced de Lucia to a new audience, much of it here in the States. But as he was being discovered by it, he was also being criticized “by flamenco die hards for his forays into other styles,” according to his website, pacodelucia.org, much as Dylan was when he went electric at Newport or Miles when he went fusion.
Said de Lucia, in a 2004 interview with the Spanish newspaper El País, according to the New York Times: “I am a purist within my aura of revolutionary, vanguardist or creator. I’m still a purist because I have always respected what I think is respectable. What I have is not the obedience the purists continue to have, but the respect for the essence, the old, the valid. Memory.”
(The original interview is in Spanish; we’re going to trust the Times’ translation).
According to euronews.com, de Lucia’s final album will be released, posthumously in April. From the website: “This work, dedicated to the copla, the traditional Spanish song, will, without a doubt, be one last revolution.”
The cut below is from de Lucia’s 1990 album Zyryab. de Lucia on the album, in a 2012 interview with the Associated Press, according to his obit on yahoo.com: “I am a perfectionist — sometimes it’s sick. I don’t like any of my albums. The ones I like, I mean, that I can stand to hear are Siroco and Zyryab, possibly because they are more flamenco and among the purest in my career.”