New CD Kol Nidre

Kol Nidrei. Todos los votos Spiritual redemption and flamenco Flamenco has been a way of life for me. The music of the gipsies of Southern Spain affects me like no other. My journey into flamenco began with an aunt from Spain visiting my family in Malta where I was born. Tia Marguerita came and stayed with us every summer.She would cook for us and while cooking listen to flamenco and dance around the kitchen. During the day I was studying art and art restoration at a monastery,listening to Gregorian chanting,but when I arrived home the house was full of flamenco guitar music. As I grew up I studied music,drums mainly and then moved on to classical guitar. Although I love classic guitar music it did not fulfil me the way flamenco did. One day,after I saw Pepe Habichuela playing,I decided this was the music I wanted to play. I asked him to teach me,but he refused saying guitar is too hard. This was in of all places,in Toronto Canada where I was studying Graphic Design. When Pepe finished his stay in Toronto he said to me "If you are serious about learning flamenco guitar come to Spain and I will teach you." I was 17 years old,and after 3 months I showed up at his house in Granada Spain and asked for lessons. I studied with Pepe and other gipsy masters off and on in Spain for twelve years. Rhythm and more rhythm,respect for gipsy culture and the fine art of improvisation within these complex mysterious rhythms. In the meantime I traced my family roots in Spain all the way to 1500,from Cadiz,to Tunisia and to Malta. The path of the Conversos during the Spanish Inquisition. I would return back to Canada every year,and with each year more people had heard of flamenco and were learning to love it. At the time I got serious about it,flamenco was not popular and when I announced to my father (a professional soccer player) that I was going to become a flamenco guitarist his reaction was " great!,you and the other man who likes it should do ok!" This motivated me even more. A few years later,perhaps 1979 I saw Paco De Lucia perform for the first time ever,I had been listening to his music since 1973,but now I heard him live. There was no looking back. This is what I was going to do. I made flamenco guitar my life,touring with dance companies,composing and finally recording. After 25 years I had produced 6 cds of original flamenco guitar music,heavily steeped in tradition. Eventually I was asked to teach at York University. The opportunity gave me a chance to spread the word of flamenco to young people. Aside from students at the university I teach others who have a love of guitar and flamenco,such a person is Mr. Harold Levy. During one of his lessons we started to work on Taranta ,a gipsy rhythm from Sacromonte,Granada Spain.Imediatly Harold said "This reminds me of Kol Nidrei". I had no idea what he meant. Soon as he left I started to research Kol Nidrei. I was fascinated by this simple ,haunting melody,spiritual and moving,flamenco but not. I then listened to many Kol Nidreis,Max Bruch,Sephardi,and countless others. The diversity was amazing. At Harold's next lesson,he brought up the Kol Nidrei subject again. I explained that I now know what that is and how moving the melody is. He then suggested I compose a flamenco Kol Nidrei. This set me off on a 6 month journey of listening and comparing Kol Nidrei to flamenco,digging for the right flamenco palo that it would work in. After months of working and trying different palos,it dawned on me, my eureka! moment,Kol Nidrei is the roots of several of the cante jondo,being Segurillas,Tientos,Taranta and Solea por bulerias. I might even say of all flamenco. Let me explain. Flamenco started around 500 years ago,a time in Spain called the age of Conviviencas,meaning everyone got along. Christians,Muslims and Jews. All got to practice their religions freely. The only ones excluded were the gitanos,or gipsies,because of their lifestyle. The gitanos could hear Christian church music from out side the church and also Cantaors in the synagogues and Emirs in the temples. All this was put into the melting pot known as flamenco. To the gitanos flamenco is the only was to talk directly to god. Armed with 25 years of flamenco playing,and the worst winter in the history of Toronto I locked myself up,considering the weather divine intervention,I proceeded to compose my Kol Nidrei. The most important thing I wanted to achieve besides being true to Kol Nidrei and being true to flamenco,I wanted to retain the improvisational aspect of flamenco music. I have written my Kol Nidrei in sections,or modules they can be performed in any order the artist feels compelled to do.I feel this will result in different versions,with freedom for the performer wheter he is a classical or flamenco guitarist. It is important to me that guitarists other than me will be interested in performing and sharing the Scannura Kol Nidrei. I will be eternally grateful to Mr. Harold Levy for introducing me and encouraging me to undertake this journey through hundreds of years of music full of passion,happiness and redemption.