Spanish guitarist virtuoso Paco de Lucía hails from a well known musical family. A master of the flamenco style, which he helped to modernize, de Lucía has also explored a variety of other genres. A prolific writer and composer, he is perhaps best known for his work as part of the Guitar Trio with Al Di Meola and John McLaughlin and for the recordings with his sextet. Paco di Lucía's masterful interpretations served to remind us of the universality and profound beauty of his country's music.
Francisco Sánchez Gómez was born on December 21, 1947 in Algeciras, a port city in the south of Spain. He was quick to follow in the footsteps of his father, Antonio Sánchez, himself an eminent guitarist, and his brothers Ramón and Pepe, also musicians. He adopted the stage name Paco de Lucía in honour of his mother, Lucía Gómez.
In 1958, Paco de Lucía made his first public appearance on the local radio. The following year, he won an award at the Jerez de la Frontera flamenco competition. In 1961, the musician toured with the flamenco dance troupe headed by José Greco. Three years later, he met Madrid native and guitarist Ricardo Modrego, with whom he recorded three albums. Then, from 1968 to 1977, he teamed up with nouveau flamenco singer Camarón de la Isla, and the duo went on to release 10 albums.
Around the world
The flamenco guitar prodigy, already acclaimed in his native Spain, soon achieved international renown. His American career began with a concert at the United Nations in New York. He also enjoyed great success in South America, Europe and even Japan.
In Spain, he became a symbol for youth intent on reasserting the value of a heritage heavily compromised by the Franco dictatorship. In this regard, de Lucía deserves the dual title of cultural ambassador for the new Spain and true citizen of the world.
In 1979, de Lucía formed a super guitar trio with John McLaughlin and Larry Coryell, who was subsequently replaced by Al Di Meola. This collaboration gave rise to three albums. In 1983, de Lucía played a key role in the feature film Carmen, by Carlos Saura, transposing the Bizet opera to a flamenco setting.
Paco de Lucía's performances at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal are always hotly anticipated and greatly appreciated. In 1986, the Festival program hailed his appearance as follows: "Paco de Lucía is among the world's greatest guitarists-all genres included." Also emphasized was the fact that the musician coupled the purest flamenco tradition with avant-garde jazz, lending his profoundly Spanish art a universal resonance .
In 1991, de Lucía took the stage at salle Wilfrid-Pelletier in the company of some of his compatriots. A good friend of the Festival, Pat Metheny, had nothing but praise for the concert, describing Paco de Lucía as "the world's greatest guitarist, period."
In 1994, de Lucía marked the Festival's 15th anniversary with a performance at the Montreal Forum. Once again, the breadth of his technical prowess was on full display, with admirers qualifying it as "frightening." He again appeared at the Festival's 20th anniversary edition in 1999.
In 2008, de Lucía released the compilation Flamenco Virtuoso. The album's 17 tracks present an overview of his illustrious career.