Juan del Gastor is a paragon of the gitano style of flamenco playing. He is the nephew of Diego del Gastor, the famed 60’s flamenco guitar icon of Morón de la Frontera (pictured above), and learned the gitano style at his uncle’s side.
The Morón style of flamenco, of which Diego is the indisputable patriarch and Juan is the modern heir, is characterized by an almost pathological emphasis on compas. This isn’t to say that it has as better sense of “rhythm” than other styles of flamenco (they’re all pretty much pathological when it comes to “staying in compás”), but the Morón style pays more attention to feeling and transmitting the compas itself.
Juan vs. Speed
A player in the Morón style has little use for churning out bar after bar of 64th note runs. In fact, here’s Juan himself, speaking about speed as it relates to the style of his uncle (I’m not transcribing this because I think the way he tells it is just too good):
I love the fact that he says “no!” six times – and really, how would I even convey in words that other thing he does? The translator you hear is Juan’s wife, Lucy Edwards (who is, by the looks of it, the model of patience).
Juan goes on to say that he has nothing against speed in guitar playing, but simply that it’s not what flamenco gitano is about. One might think of flamenco gitano as a counterpart to the virtuoso strain of flamenco started by Ramon Montoya and Niño Ricardo – and continued by, among others, Paco de Lucia, Tomatito, and Vicente Amigo.
After his introduction to the Morón flamenco style’s tradition and aesthetic, Juan played and sang five examples from his repertoire, linked here in their entirety.
In the last of these, the buleria, the guitar stops because Juan, at this point, could no longer stay in his seat: he puts the guitar down, stands up, and starts dancing and doing palmas. He eventually comes down off the stage and, bringing Lucy down with him to dance, finishes the song in the aisle.
See Part Two: Juan Cañizares
This lecture demo was part one in a two part series put on by the University of Washington’s Depertment of Spanish. Part two, with Juan Cañizares, covers Cañizres’s more modern, virtuoso style of playing.