Flamenco Jazz Sketches, Philip Adie / Luis Salto Duo at Alba Flamenca, Edinburgh, 28 August 2022

There was a time when it seemed as though Edinburgh Festival Fringe mostly took place in hard to locate, tiny rooms – not unusually attics or basements. Tonight’s stunning flamenco-jazz performance prompted such nostalgic reverie.

As part of this year’s Fringe, Aberdeen-born flamenco guitarist Philip Adie presented a soundtrack to Seville, his adopted home, in a series of daily flamenco-jazz concerts over ten days of the Festival. In duo with Spaniard, jazz double bassist Louis Salto the two treated the necessarily small but attentive audience to a sparkling one-hour set, in a little room that apparently is usually reserved for salsa dance classes. Adie explained that though he himself generally plays mostly flamenco, his friendship with jazz musician Salto had led to tonight’s cross-over performance.

Adie’s introductions to each tune were helpful in outlining what types of flamenco were being played and certainly one could clearly hear the stylistic differences. All the tunes were beautiful, perhaps especially so Adie’s only solo, ‘Entre Naranjos y Olivos’ which began ethereally but soon took off flamenco-wards. A number of the tunes were by composer Manuel de Falla, such as the final, particularly jazzy version from his La Vida Brevi opera.

Throughout, both musicians demonstrated exemplary technique, their playing showing that mix of passion and extreme discipline typical of flamenco. Sometimes in unison and at others breaking free to bat improvisations between each other, the close communication between the two was a constant.

This reviewer found herself musing about flamenco vocalist El Camaron’s collaborations with Paco de Lucia, and also about the former’s 1979 ‘flamenco-rock’ album ‘La Legenda del Tiempo’ which at the time contentiously broke new ground for flamenco.

But tonight’s performance was mostly a flamenco-jazz syncretism, and highly successful at that. Whilst Adie’s guitar seemed steeped in the former genre – it comes as no surprise to learn that Adie has reportedly studied with Paco Peña – he also engaged with Salto in some very jazz and blues-feel sections.

Towards the end of what felt like a very short hour, Adie mentioned that it was almost exactly a century ago that the inaugural flamenco song contest, the ‘Concurso de Cante Jondo de Granada’ organised by composer de Falla and poet Federico García Lorca, had taken place. That event gave a kind of respectability to flamenco throughout Spain, kick-starting a greater prominence, appreciation of and probably more rapid evolution of the flamenco.

Tonight’s was a shining example of where curiosity can take flamenco, and was surely a jewel in this year’s Fringe. Fingers crossed that this questing duo is able to return here next year.


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