JOAQUIN GRILO & LA LUPI
March 7, 2016
World Music Institute returned to Symphony Space, where the WMI founders Helene & Robert Browning offered countless stellar productions with musicians from around the world. Since the Browning’s sad departure, WMI has scaled down the number, though happily, not the quality of performances. Festival Ay! Mas Flamenco, piggybacking on the much larger Flamenco Festival 2016 which plays at City Center, Carnegie Hall, and Joe’s Pub, featured performers who either explore cutting edge interpretations of flamenco (La Otra Orilla) or espouse the emotional depth and connection among performers (Tablao Sevilla: Sonia Olla and Ismael Fernandez).
Joaquin Grilo creates an immaculate sound, with an exacting approach to rhythm, which makes him a preferred collaborator of Spain’s top musicians. He dedicated his performance on March 4th to the late Paco de Lucia, with whom he toured for many years. For his first appearance, he walked into an overhead spotlight and moved, almost reluctantly, to a recording. Presumably the recording was by Paco de Lucia, but Festival Ay! Mas Flamenco dispensed with program details beyond bios of the artists. While his feet always produced a crisp sound, his upper body hinted at different emotions and personalities: a Broadway jazz man - splayed hands snapped to right-left, a film noir thug - standing with his feet directly under his shoulders, chest high, to throw punches; a voguer of questionable sexuality - flopping a hand, palm to the heavens, or delicately pressing his forehead; a randy woman - swaying his buttocks. In the second half, he settled for a dead pan comedian. His over-amped performance at Symphony Space closed with cantaor Jose Valencia and guitarist Juan Requena following the dancer in extreme slow motion.
La Lupi performed on Saturday night with her astounding guitarist Curro de Maria, and singers Gabriel de la Tomasa and Alfredo Tejada, who created surprisingly tender harmonies in a Cana. While Grilo whose main strength is acoustic perfection, La Lupi is a larger than life character with a virtuosic mastery of materials, tools of her trade: manton, hat, bata de cola. La Lupi first appeared as a 19century peasant who moved with a zest for gravity (stomping in second position) and bawdy hip bumps. She sways from a purist approach though with her love of speed and innovation. Perhaps her best surprise was appearing in a black slip and character shoes, moving an enormous rain stick slowly from one side of her torso to the other letting the delicate sound complete its vibration.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deirdre Towers