Antonio Mairena - Part 2
Antonio Mairena was responsible for promoting cante jondo and he revived many old and forgotten styles of cante and he possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of all the styles of cante. Unlike many of the old cantaores, whom we rely on the words of the writers to give us an insight into their magical powers, Mairena recorded many discs, his first in 1939.
Antonio Mairena was also a great admirer of Juan Talega from whom he accumulated many old styles of siguiriyas and deblas, and many believe that if it were not through the efforts of Mairena, many of the old palos would have not survived and would have been lost and forgotten forever.
Antonio Mairena also turned his hand to flamencology (Flamenco theorist) and together with the poet Ricardo Molina he wrote what is considered to be the flamenco bible, Mundos y formas del cante flamenco.
The town where Antonio Mairena was born is something of a shrine to the memory of the great singer. Other towns in Andalucia have clubs, festivals and monuments dedicated to dozens of different artistes but in Mairena de Alcor just about everything has Antonio’s name attached to it. He also had two brothers, Manuel and Curro, who were confident singers of flamenco but their names have been somewhat over shadowed by their brothers.
Antonio died in his place of birth in September 1983 and still today the locals talk fondly of the master cantaor as if he was still with them.
There is little question, in the minds of flamenco aficionados, that Antonio Mairena was one of the greatest singers that ever lived. He remained active in the world of flamenco for all of his life, not in the commercial scene of the theatres and clubs but in juergas and festivals.
He dedicated his life to the promotion of the gypsy cantes, although he was also well versed in all styles of flamenco, probably more than anyone else of the twentieth century. He excelled in the lesser known styles like the toñas, deblas, carceleras and the martinetes, and his powerful, versatile voice lent itself well to bulerias, tangos and fandangos. In the words of the late Don Pohren “ His knowledge is vast and profound, and in his mouth the cantes, even those he considers mediocre or uninteresting turn to gold”.
Rito y geographia del cante flamenco vols 1, 4, 7.
El Calor de mis recuerdos ( re-released 2003)