Expect plenty of blackness, therefore, as well as a few blue notes at Raul Corredor’s two concerts next week, which take place in Brussels and Leuven as part of the Midis-Minimes and Zomer Van Sint-Pieter lunchtime concert series.
Corredor, 29, is an Andalusian guitarist who was born in Murcia and grew up in Granada. He is sometimes called the “new blood of flamenco” because of the jazzy strains with which he infuses his playing, but he is quick to deflect any claim to novelty. Flamenco, he says, is a constantly evolving art form. It is as intensely alive as it is rooted in tradition – and many people, back home, have been tampering with it for years, starting with his own father, a flamenco singer who doubles as a jazz pianist.
“I can’t say I’ve invented anything new,” he tells me, blaming us northern Europeans for our clichéd view of the genre. “People go to Spain on holiday and come back with these visions of frills and castanets. But that’s got nothing to do with the kind of flamenco that’s played today in Andalusia. We’ve moved on.”
The link between jazz and flamenco, he says, runs deep. “Both use improvisation, albeit in different ways,” Corredor (centre in photo) points out. “Both sound best and purest when played in a family setting or among friends. And both stem from the margins of society. It’s like two people saying the same thing, expressing the same emotions, but in different languages.”
Corredor moved to Brussels two years ago, hoping to find more artistic freedom here than he did back in Andalusia, where he felt burdened by the weight of tradition. He hasn’t been disappointed. “There’s more variety here,” he says, “and the jazz scene is excellent. In Spain, or at least in Granada, it’s not so easy to innovate, or find other influences. Or to run a project, for that matter.” When he’s not teaching at Brussels Centro Galego or at Antwerp’s Jazz Studio, Corredor plays in small local venues in quartet and quintet formations. His concerts are sparse and intense affairs, without a castanet in sight.
“There is a word in Spanish, ausencia, that doesn’t easily translate. It’s not absence – more like silence,” he ventures. “Silence brings things out. When it is broken by a voice or by percussion, it means something. We don’t use all the instruments at the same time. That’s never good for music.” Traditional instruments such as guitars and palmas (handclapping) feature alongside bolder ones, such as an electric bass. And, to irk purists even more, some of his musicians are Belgian. “Of course you don’t need to be Spanish to play flamenco,” Corredor argues. “It’s not easy music, that’s true, but it can be learned if one is ready to work hard enough. There’s nothing mysterious about it.”
New blood, indeed.