Flamenco - Tomatito

José Fernandez Torre, "Tomatito"

José Fernandez Torre, or "Tomatito" (little tomato), as he is artistically known was born into a family of flamenco guitarists. His Grandfather was El Tomate Viejo (the old tomato), his uncle was "Niño Miguel" and his father was El Tomate (the tomato). Although his grandfather was the first guitarist in a long line of tomatoes, Tomatito once said that he did not know how this name came about, only that it was possible his grandfather received this name because his face was ruddy when he was drunk.

 

 

Tomatito was born in Almería in 1956 and he received his first guitar at the age of ten. His father started to teach him the guitar but he was to receive instruction from the guitarist Pedro Blanco in Málaga.

Tomatito was another guitarist that got his inspiration from Paco de Lucía, but Ramon Montoya, Sabiacas, and the great Diego del Gastor also motivated him.

The turning point in his life was when he met Camaron de la Isla in the "Taberna Gitana", an old flamenco tablao that was situated in the centre of Málaga. This meeting was the beginning of his role as the regular accompanist to the great Camaron de la Isla after the departure of Paco de Lucia.

Tomatito learned much from Camaron and accompanied him from 1981 until the singer died in 1992. Together they collaborated in many albums, although it was the record "Leyenda del Tiempo" which was to raise the public's awareness of his great talent as a flamenco guitarist. Tomatito was just twenty when he was informed by Camaron that he was to play alongside Paco de Lucía on this album. He would go on to play with Paco on the next album, "Como el Agua", as well and this was a period that would change Tomatito`s life for ever. He also accompanied Camaron on the festival circuit as well as their historical performances together in Paris and various other parts of Europe.

In 1986 Tomatito joined forces with the "Indal Jazz Quartet" and together they performed at the "V Festival de Jazz" in Madrid. One year later he released his first solo album, a project on which his good friend Camaron assisted him.

After Camaron's untimely death in 1992, Tomatito concentrated more on his solo career although he did also accompany Enrique Morente, Vicente Soto, Pansequito, Duqende, and José Merce to name but a few.

But like many of the top flamenco guitarists of today, he has wandered far off the flamenco track with his music. He once played support to Elton John in a concert that was held in the bullring in Madrid, he also toured with the pianist Chano Dominguez who perform their own unique style of flamenco-jazz. He has also played along side Frank Sinatra as well as teaming up with Neneh Cherry to record a version of her hit "Woman".

Today his music is a unique mix of flamenco, jazz, Brazilian, and even Turkish music and in the year 2005 he won a "Latin Grammy" for the album "Aguadulce", which was a tribute to his birthplace and included the extremely flamenco voice of Diego el Cigala.

Tomatito has played on some of the most important stages in the world delivering his own personal style of flamenco-jazz, but many will always think of him as the guitarist who accompanied Camaron de la Isla.

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