Flamenco guitar was never meant to be the star of the show. Its traditional spot was in the back along with the clapping (palmas). All eyes and ears were on the dancers and the singers-until Paco de Lucia came along.
In the 1970s, de Lucia revolutionized flamenco by expanding not only the role of the guitar but also what is played on it. The jazz world caught up with him via his collaborations with Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Larry Coryell and Al Di Meola.
His career did not take place in jazz, but his approach and his influence parallel that of a jazz master. But what do you do if you are a musician who for more than 30 years has added outside influences to a tradition that set the standard for all others to follow? Go back to basics.
Paco de Lucia does just that on Cositas Buenas. On his first release in five years, he reexamines the traditional relationship between guitar and voice. Keeping his prodigious chops in check, he tastefully backs an array of the finest flamenco cantaores (singers). He wouldn't be the trailblazer he is if he didn't do some tinkering: Throughout the CD he also plays bouzouki, lute and mandolin.
A highlight of Cositas Buenas is "Que Venga el Alba", a modern-day reunion (through electronics) of de Lucia with his longtime collaborator, the legendary flamenco vocalist El Camaron de la Isla (who died in 1992).
Bulerias, soleas and tangos (no, not those tangos) are what flamenco is all about. While the singing is once again in the spotlight, there is plenty of de Lucia magic on Cositas Buenas to propel the music toward those unison flourishes (rasgueos) that almost always illicit outbursts of "Ole!" from the group.