Tomatito & George Benson – “La Vacilona” from Paseo de Castaños (2001)
Preview: Tomatito – Luz de Guía, Wednesday 16th February, Part of Flamenco Festival London at Sadler’s Wells. Preview by Roderick McKinley)
In its eighth year, the Sadlers Wells Flamenco Festival is now a calendar fixture. I saw the name of Tomatito in this year’s line-up, noticed that tickets for his concert were disappearing fast: I thought I’d better snap one up.
A student of Paco de Lucia – another flamenco legend – José Fernández Torres , known as Tomatito is a virtuoso in a technically demanding style of music characterised by tight, intense rhythmic strums and passionate flourishes.
Tomatito has partly remained true to the flamenco tradition, but his compositions are enriched with harmonic and melodic elements borrowed from jazz. He has also collaborated with George Benson (above), Michael Camilo, and Chick Corea.
At its best, this willingness to look outwards beyond flamenco feels natural, and the extended vocabulary allows greater scope, subtlety, and surprise in the music, thereby freeing him up to explore amazingly intricate and relentless rhythmic textures.
As with any exploratory, risk-taking artist, there is the occasional misfire: I have found the production on some pieces a little too rich, sentimental, or “smooth.”
The setup for this Wednesday’s performance (two singers, a percussionist, a second guitar and a dancer) is traditional. I’m looking forward to plenty of authentic passion.
The London Flamenco Festival runs until Saturday February 19th