tastelessand weary joke
their songs enjoy sweeping success on Spanish radio stations, this served as aprecedent, and many other
from Andalusia were spurred on to give their ownpeculiar twist to the flamenco sound. Among them,Miguel Vargas Bambinois the figurewhose recognition has grown most significantly up until now. Though he drew hisrhythmical frameworks from the Andalusian rumba, Bambino created a dark and sombermood, and sang breathtaking songs of alienation and death. And what seems moreimportant today is that he blurred certain boundary lines, and paved the way for subtleelements of traditional flamenco to seep into rumba and pop.The opposing argument has been to blame these
, Bambino and Peret, for thefact that ever since that moment any music with a vague hint of Andalusia isautomatically dubbed flamenco, and that this label is used in an unscrupulous andcarefree fashion, resulting in confusion and prejudice. They've been repeatedly accusedof opening the flood gates: Bambino and Peret, indirectly responsible for the fact thatgroups like Los Chichos and Los Calis, to name but two, have been branded flamencoartists
an inappropriate baptism no matter what ones views are as to the quality of their work.
Kiko Veneno in 'El Gran Gato's
But less attention has been given over to the fact that Bambino's rejuvenating creativeapproach
separate as it was from flamenco, though the similarities were clear
galvanized the flamenco scene in the seventies. There's no doubt that Bambino wasboth a clear demonstration and a symptom of the fact that certain taboos were beingbroken, and it wouldn't be going too far to say that he shared the same restlessnessthat led Paco de Lucía to record 'Entre dos aguas' or that drove Kiko Veneno and theAmador brothers to open up a whole new side to the ancient Andalusian gypsy art form.Because it's no exaggeration to say that rumba was an antecedent for the fusion andcrossovers which were to become such an everyday concept in later years.
Those years, however, saw
la rumba catalana
entrenched in the crudest record labelssuch as Galax and Seven, and confined to the seediest backstreet cafés in Barcelona'sGracia barrio. Then in 1977 an Argentinian musician by the name of Javier Patricio Pérezstepped into the Café Petxina, a well
known meeting place and night spot. This youngman, anxious to get to know all who crossed his path, open to influences of all kinds,and with a well
tuned ear, felt that the rumba he had stumbled across here was one of the city's most genuine musical offerings. It was as if he'd found a true goldmine of popular folklore nestled in the city of Barcelona, with a vivacious sonority, and with awarmth that could easily be carried over into the jazz and progressive experimentationthat was in vogue among his companions in the city. Javier Patricio, otherwise known asGato Pérez, turned his attention to restoring a sense of dignity to the ill
treated rumba,with a little help from the gypsies on Gracia's Plaza del Raspall, and his unusual poeticflair. El Gato's rumbas, leaning toward salsa and crossing over into other genres,demanded the public's attention once again in the early eighties, as he released someof his best recordings. Many of his lyrics reveal his intuitions as to the nature, historyand power of both rumba and fusion.But although El Gato revived rumba after its prematuredisappearance, and set it back on the right track, henever managed to create a vehicle with which to assurethat it continued on the up. Yes, there were a fewgroups which hinted at something more solid after thatsecond surge. But despite the commercial success of the Gipsy Kings
Catalan gypsies resident in Montpellier
and the popularity of Los Manolos, the outstandingRumbeat (who worked withCarles Benavent) or Peret'scomeback marked by the closing ceremony at theBarcelona Olympics, the revival lacked substance andonce again fizzled out. Back it went to the catacombs
the barrios where it could carry on in the safety of familiar surroundings, to receive the true appreciation of the ever
faithful Gitano following, and to wait withbated breath for the next reinvention of rumba.
"Javier Patricio,otherwise knownas Gato Pérez,turned hisattention torestoring a senseof dignity to the