An Evening Equal Parts Jazz and Flamenco

Pianist Chano Dominguez opens the Ford Theatres 2018 Season wedding the spirit of flamenco with the pulse of jazz.

Chano Dominguez's Flamenco Sketches

Explosive and transfixing best describe composer/pianist/band leader Chano Dominguez’s singular blending of flamenco and jazz. This fusion is the heart of Chano’s show Flamenco Sketches, which kicks off the Ford’s 2018 Season on June 1.

Audiences will be treated to Chano’s evocative re-imaginings of all five of the Miles Davis 1959 jazz album Kind of Blue’s classic compositions: “So What,” “Freddie Freeloader,” “Blue in Green,” “All Blues” and “Flamenco Sketches,” from which the program adopted its name. Additionally, Chano will perform Piano Iberico, a new piece commissioned by Chamber Music America (CMA) which won a prestigious CMA Presenters Consortium grant award, a component of the Doris Duke Jazz Ensemble Project.

Born in Cadiz in southern Spain, Chano grew up steeped in flamenco tradition thanks to his father’s extensive collection of recordings. Later, while as a member of the rock band CAI, Chano fell sway to the influence of jazz-rock fusion pioneers Weather Report, Return to Forever, and The Mahavishnu Orchestra, as well as jazz piano legends Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Chick Corea, and Herbie Hancock. However, it was the discovery of virtuoso Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucia’s pioneering work blending flamenco and jazz that changed everything. Chano has since composed and performed his meticulous yet passionate works in settings ranging from solo piano to big bands around the globe.

“I play music with the influence of my culture,” he states. “Sometimes, I don’t know if I am playing jazz or flamenco. For me, the blues and solea are the same.”

More than a musical concert, Flamenco Sketches is fortified by the presence of flamenco dancer Daniel Navarro, winner of Córdoba, Spain’s National Flamenco Contest. Navarro has graced stage, film and television, has his own company and has danced with Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía and Ballet de Murcia.

Providing the cante flamenco and palmas (flamenco singing and hand-clapping) component to the show is Latin GRAMMY-nominated Blas Córdoba, a self-taught flamenco singer from Cadiz blessed with a natural instrument (his kejio) identifiable for its rich timbre and impassioned soul (duende). Córdoba’s original style branches off from the roots of past masters such as Manolo Caracol, Antonio Mairena and especially Camarón de la Isla. 

Holding down the rhythmic foundation are two very fine instrumentalists. Bassist Alexis Cuadrado is a Barcelona-born composer, bandleader and educator in his own right currently based in New York City. A restless cross-disciplinarian whose music has recently been comingled with poetry, film and design, Cuadrado’s work is defined by its confluence of Spanish and American culture as well as embracing a deep commitment to comment on social issues. Drummer/percussionist Henry Cole has proven indispensable to acclaimed jazz groups including the Miguel Zenón Quartet, David Sánchez, the Alfredo Rodriguez Trio, Stefon Harris and Nicholas Payton. Cole has asserted himself as leader of the Afro-Beat Collective, striving to integrate all his varied influences, including Puerto Rican folklore, funk, R&B, jazz and Afro-Caribbean rhythmic traditions.

If a seat in the house isn’t close enough to witness the senses-stirring burst of cross-cultural passion, grace and fire, a limited number of on-stage seats are available. Get them while they last.

Chano Dominguez’s Flamenco Sketches is presented in association with LA’s Fountain Theatre, as well as California’s famed Stanford Live and the Musical Instruments Museum in Phoenix, Arizona.

- Written for the Ford Blog by Scott Galloway.