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Enrique Morente -
Artist info
Enrique Morente

Enrique Morente

Enrique Morente

His childhood Enrique Morente was born in the Granada Albaycín in 1942. Those were times when post – war shock turned the Spaniards into survivors of the established order, experts in other people’s disgrace and enigmatic partners in misfortune. The hills in the Albaycín did not escape this situation, which was highlighted by the lights and shades that invade them. Enrique’s childhood takes place in a familiar atmosphere, along with his mother’s voice and under the influence of local artists such as Juanillo el Gitano Read more on
His childhood Enrique Morente was born in the Granada Albaycín in 1942. Those were times when post – war shock turned the Spaniards into survivors of the established order, experts in other people’s disgrace and enigmatic partners in misfortune. The hills in the Albaycín did not escape this situation, which was highlighted by the lights and shades that invade them. Enrique’s childhood takes place in a familiar atmosphere, along with his mother’s voice and under the influence of local artists such as Juanillo el Gitano, Cobitos or the Habichuelas. His first incursions into music take place at a very early age and with a twofold nature, he performs as a “seise” in the Cathedral of Granada and as an eager learner at family and neighbours gatherings. “The cante begins inside you when you listen to the villager’s singing, to people in their birthplace. Groups of people that meet in a tavern and start singing, and then you listen to them and start singing as well: you learn that at family parties where everybody sings and everybody drinks, and everybody dances and...

Apart from that, it turns out that, of course, you need a technique, you need a school, you need to learn. In order to achieve this, what you need... the main help you can get is to have a liking for it; and then the skill to know who to learn from, and from what sources, where to find the good. Then you are on”. His teenager’s growing liking for flamenco, as well as the personal discovery of his eagerness for knowledge lead him to an unconditional and insatiable search for himself, from the most orthodox and traditional flamenco. Perhaps he starts to think of himself as “Enrique Morente” when he has the opportunity to meet Aurelio Sellés (Aurelio de Cádiz) with who he will get on very well later on out of respect and admiration, out of solemnity and profundity, until the moment the conciliatory didactic miracle of oral transmission takes place, taking over all the values of the flamenco spirit, amongst which we must include eagerness, improvisation and art. Madrid His feverish learning and self – assurance take him to Madrid when he was 14 or 15 years of age.

In his luggage, he carried a handful of anxious hopes, a few fandangos by “Frasquito Yerbabuena” and a humble, sincere and attentive look. In Madrid he gets in touch with young “aficionados” whose senses have just awakened to the flamenco sensitivity, they were mostly university students who saw in Enrique Morente a certain air that was irreconcilable with youth inconsistency and that, out of friendship and from an anonymous position, where already attentive to his ways, and already sensed a certain flamenco ritual in his look that tried to absorb everything in order to reflect it back later on into his personal ways. It was a difficult but intensive period, when everything was forbidden but everything was possible, where the easy way out was to hide behind the comfort of a learnt silence, but to Enrique Morente, comfort was found in the discredited bohemian life... Without the light of a clean and serene horizon, he looks for the darkness of on – duty hangouts, with one or two neon flashes, where sorrows are cried and joys are longed for, real schools for eternal heartbreaking “cante”, where the shadows shock with muffled screams and homage to wisdom or feeling is paid with silence. Pepe de la Matrona was an expert on flamenco. He had the honour of having met all the great ones and of being a pupil of D.

Antonio Chacón. This octogenarian singer found attentive ears in this group of young “aficionados” that nearly everyday came to this appointment with experience in order to get their share of knowledge. Enrique el Granaíno, such was his nickname in the circles he frequented, had succeeded in interesting Matrona, who had a very fine ear as he proved on so many occasions and who had an intuition that became reasoning when time passed. This interest was raised not so much by Enrique Morente’s intonation, by his registers or by his melismatic as by his attitude towards things, his respect and his learning capacity. We could see this relationship between the encyclopaedic Matrona and Morente as the most relevant, complete and productive reflection in flamenco history.

Ninety years of cante given away night after night, hour after hour, in detail, each one offered as invaluable jewels on a tray full of lack of rush. Enrique’s debut takes place in the “peña flamenca Charlot”, a place that was so many times a refuge for helpless voices and on so many occasions Aula magna of masterful lectures. Other performances followed the first one in 1964 in La Casa de Málaga or with the couple of dancers formed by Luis Rodríguez and Pepita Sarracena in different clubs, but we must consider that his real springboard to professional life took place that same year when he signs a contract with the Ballet de Marienma, with which he performs at the Spanish Pavilion in New York world fair and at the Spanish Embassy in Washington. Subsequently the maestro’s first appearance in a flamenco festival took place. A festival of its time, with a bill that would make us shiver with excitement if we could see it today: Enrique Morente with Juan Talega, Fernanda and Bernarda de Utrera, Gaspar de Utrera, Tomás Torre and Antonio Mairena. The presenter was Ricardo Molina and the event took place in the Teatro de los Alcázares de los Reyes Cristianos.

After his performance, Antonio Mairena and Ricardo Molina approached him in the dressing – room and spent a good while with him, surprised that they had not met him before, due to his very personal way of singing and the wide knowledge that he proved to have. The year after he is engaged along with Susana and José to do his first European Tour thorough the United Kingdom, Germany, Holland, Switzerland and Belgium, and later on he travels to Japan and Italy alongside Pepita Sarracena and José Luis Rodríguez. Zambra He is engaged by the tablao Las Cuevas de Nemesio in Madrid, but Enrique’s prestige amongst the flamenco professionals grows considerably when he becomes a part of the company of artists who work at Zambra, a complete flamenco chair which meant an important historic coincidence to be taken into consideration. The company was formed by the most prestigious group of singers, and Enrique cultivates the cante “p’atrás” and “p’alante” in the best of schools, “La Antología”. Rafael Romero “el Gallina”, Jacinto Almadén, Juan Varea, Bernardo de Los Lobitos, Perico el del Lunar, father and son, Manolo de Huelva are some of the artists that frequented that tablao whose walls competed for the privilege of attending night after night, the miracle of breaking the routine in the surprised liturgical silence and the complicity. A real luxury... He is also employed by the Café de Chinitas, and meanwhile he starts to be requested by festivals and shows where he shares the bill with all the greatest artists of the moment.

In 1967 he is awarded the first Prize at The certamen Málaga Cantaora. Perhaps because of his youth, we should regard this period as the “embrujo” of Enrique Morente as we know him today, and this in not an idle statement if we take into account the parallel existing between his artistic, and his personal progress. His insatiable capacity for understanding, his spirit, compromised with his environment and his creative personality are going to shape this young flamenco master into a sufferer of other people’s experiences. There are people who are born to suffer in other people’s skin ... and in that sense, Morente clashes with the established rules, the social ones as well as the mimetic ways of flamenco and the whole list of stereotyped rules as the bars of flamenco orthodoxy. “I believe that everybody is in some way conditioned by their situation.

I don’t mean by this that I’m doing what I’m doing under any kind of pressure. The man consists of himself and his circumstances. Considering this what you must do is art. Orthodoxy must serve the purpose of enticing you into new paths, new ways and, if all this is done sincerely and honestly, it is always useful to live new experiences and the mistakes lead you to open new windows.

When new things are tried, not everything is going to be perfect, not everything is going to turn out well. That is always a risk: to me, it would be much easier to keep singing the Malagueña del El Canario, etc; I get bored if I sing always the same and I think that you must take orthodoxy and get inspired, build it up and do enticing things to create new Art”." His first record came out very soon. In 1967 it appears with the title “Cante Flamenco”, accompanied by Felix de Utrera and by Hispavox. Plaza de los herradores (Cantos de Frasquito Hierbabuena). Y conmigo no ha “podío” (La Caña). Ni quien se acuerde mí (Malagueñas de la Peñaranda). De tu querer apartarme (Soleá de los Puertos). “Toito” me viene en contra (Siguiriyas de “El Mellizo”). En la estación de Jerez (Martinete). Se me apareció la muerte (Malagueña de Chacón). A las minas del Romero (Cantes de Pedro “el Morato”). La verdulera (Mirabrás). Me tienes “consumío” (Soleá). Mi hora mala llegó (Siguiriya).. This recording, as all the recordings from that period, done without nearly any repetitions and without previous rehearsals, denotes the great knowledge that Enrique possessed, not only because of his praiseworthy performance, but because of the choice of cantes which includes unusual songs for that time or for a 25 year old young man. In this respect, the influence of Pepe de la Matrona is noticeable and we cannot say that the marketing scope of this singer is very optimistic because he is not a part of the current aesthetic movement, whose leaders were Fosforito, Caracol and Mairena. The recognition that this work received was materialised in a special mention from de Cátedra de Flamencología in 1968. An important and hardly known anecdote having to do with this record is that Pepe de la Matrona reprimanded him for including the Malagueña de la Peñaranda.

This was a cante which had never been recorded before and Pepe de la Matrona, when singing it, always explained that he thought it was by la Peñaranda but he could not be certain about it. The truth is that this cante has been recorded later on by many artists and none of them have admitted learning it from Enrique Morente, who was the one who really made it popular. That same year, 1967, another record came out, also with Hispavox and it was called “Cantes Antiguos del Flamenco” and was accompanied by El Niño Ricardo. Its contents are: Malagueña grande de Chacón Siguiriyas Fandangos Soleares Malagueña de El Canario Peteneras Tarantas de Almería Cartagenera Siguiriyas de Jerez Martinete y Toná. This selection of cantes denotes a deep knowledge, above all, due to the short period of time that separates it from the previous work. This leads us to think that he did not have to make an effort to learn anything for any of these two records and that he is just showing in an honest and structured way, everything he has learnt and lived before.

That absorbing and restless look left for a moment the external references in order to search into himself, showing this way the artist, the performer who relies on personal touches and on feelings, because of the absence of showing off, because of the essence of the critical sense, because of a rightful and supreme flamenco. With the one from Sanlúcar In the coming years, Enrique Morente and Manolo Sanlúcar will meet each other and this will elicit a professional relationship that will last for a long time. With this magnificent guitarist he will be the first flamenco singer to perform at the Ateneo de Madrid. About this performance, we cannot say that it had a great impact on the “afición” of that time, but today, we can say beyond any doubt that it was a historic partnership if we take into account both artists trajectory. The exploration for new scenarios for flamenco is a constant in the master’s career and it reveals the dynamic and innovative spirit of a person who avoids prejudice and immobility. During 1971 he gives performances in Mexico with the guitarist Parrilla de Jerez and the dancer Ana Parrilla, in different tablaos, theatres and culture centres. This culminates in his participation in the I festival Internacional Cervantino in Guanajuato and his presentation in the Auditorio de la Universidad de las Américas in 1972. That same year he gives a performance along with María Vargas and Manolo Sanlúcar, where he was paid homage.

With the company of the latter, he gives a series of performances in New York (Lincoln Centre, Spanish Institute, etc.). In 1972 ha was awarded the “Premio Nacional de Cante” by the Cátedra de Flamencología y Estudios folklóricos Andaluces in Jerez de la Frontera and he gave a performance at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. In 1973 ha came back to America to sing ant the Lincoln Center in New York. After that, in 1978, his records “Despegando” and “Homenaje a Don Antonio Chacón” were released. With the latter he was awarded the 1st Premio National for best folk music album, by the Ministry of Culture. In the early 80’s, it was very usual to see artists singing together and he did so with Camarón a few times. The first time, it was at the Frontón de Madrid. In 1981 he released his show “Andalucía hoy” which later on is taken to different towns and to the Olimpia Theatre in Paris. In the late 60’s, Morente took part in setup of “La Celestina” alongside the pianist Antonio Robledo and his wife, the Swiss dancer Susana Andeoud.

Soon afterwards, the three of them made the ballet “Obsesión”, performed by the Canada National Ballet. Also with Antonio Robledo, Morente created the “Fantasía del cante Jondo para voz Flamenca y orquesta”, which was performed for the first time in the Teatro Real de Madrid on the 16th of May, 1986, with the guitarists Juan Habichuela and Gerardo Núñez and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid, and directed by Luis Izquierdo. In these years an illegal album was released in Holland. It was called “Morente en vivo”. One of his most daring and original artistic experiences was the premiere of the show “El loco romántico” in Granada, 1988. It was based on the work by Cervantes “Don Quijote de la Mancha”.

I think that this experience summarises in a way, the Master’s trajectory. That same year (1988) he performed for the first time his “Misa flamenca” (flamenco mass) with texts by San Juan de la Cruz, Fray Luis de León, Lope de Vega and Juan de la Encina; he recorded texts by Lorca in the “Casa Museo de Federico García Lorca”. In 1989 he received an Honorary Membership of the San Juan Evangelista Jazz and Music Club, along with Angel Barutell Farinós (Head of El Corte Inglés External Relationships) and Gustavo Villapalos Salas ( Culture and Education Counsellor in “Comunidad de Madrid”) on the occasion of 20th anniversary of this club. Creative intensity “Art must no have frontiers and flamenco is a kind of music that is alive, very up to date and it can perfectly mingle with other instruments from all over the world”. The 15th of September, 1990, in The Patio de la Montería de los Reales Alcázares” in Seville, he performed for the first time the “Allegro Soleá” at the 6th Flamenco Biennial, with the guitarists Pepe Habichuela and Montoyita, the pianist Antonio Robledo and the Orquesta de Cámara de Granada conducted by Micha Rachelevsky. A dream come true. To get to this point, he had been through lots of musical experiences. Besides the ones we have already mentioned, he composed the music for the work by Martín Recuerda “Las arrecogidas del Beaterio de Santa María Egipciaca”, he worked with José Luis Gómez in “Edipo Rey” and with Miguel Narros in “Así que pasen cinco años”. Another unavoidable reference is the Moroccan Chekara, because in his show “Macama Jonda”, by José Heredia Maya, he put together the Tetuan Andalusí Orchestra and a selected group of flamenco artists.

Among these artists we could find Lole’s mother, who was born in Orán, Antonia la Negra and Enrique Morente. This work tries to be a meeting point for flamenco and Moroccan musicians in order to create a common atmosphere. “The cante flamenco must be performed by the flamenco professional artists and not by everyone else. Flamenco, like any other art is a professional art, although many people look at us through a magnifying glass as if they were saying: interesting bugs! or something similar... What a folk music!...

and so on ... And they often think that you need to have pudgy fingers from harvesting potatoes in order to play the guitar with feeling. And I say Look, both jobs are honest, but I can assure you that a person with fine and fussy fingers won’t be able to pick potatoes properly; but I also assure you that a person with pudgy fingers from picking potatoes won’t be able to play the guitar properly.... Because he won’t have the necessary fingering and dedication.

This is a job as any other, and you have to devote yourself to it completely, It is a professional art: That way, if you have to do a recording session in the morning, you do it in the morning; of course it is very difficult and it is even more difficult at night or in the evening, because your voice is not fine in the morning. It is like “asleep”; it awakens once you have walked and moved; but it does not have to be at four in the morning. I am very hard on myself. Terrible.

The hardest. I am always angry with myself. One does not do things the way one wants them. Today I do well the things I wanted to well then years ago.

I am the Morente I wanted to be ten years ago. I am not today’s Morente”. He entered the 90’s searching for different tangential meeting points, but always with a deep respect and the varnish of naturalness. In 1990 he merges his musical expression with the famous Bulgarian Voices “Angelite” at the entrance to Barcelona Cathedral, and it was produced by Barcelona Musician Workshop. In 1991 this Misa Flamenca (Flamenco mass) is performed for the first time, and it has nothing to do with the previous flamenco experiences, related to the religious ceremony.

Later on, and seizing the opportunity of what would be Sabicas’ last visit to Spain, he records an album totally conservative with the guitar master from Navarra and with the discographic company Ariola. With “Negra si tu supieras” he recorded for “Nuevos Medios” in 1993, although very soon he conceived the idea of founding his own discographic company, “Discos Probeticos”. In 1994 Morente is the first flamenco singer to receive the Premio Nacional de Música (Music National Prize) awarded by the Ministry of Culture. In 1995 he was given the Golden Medal by the “Cátedra de Flamencología de Jerez de la Frontera” and the Award “Compás del Cante” in Seville. In 1996, he takes part in the Homage paid to Manuel de Falla at The Lincoln Center in New York, along with Tomatito, with who he was on tour in Spain. In his album “Omega” he cooperated with Granada’s rock band Lagartija Nick and a good number of flamenco artists such a Vicente Amigo, Tomatito or Cañizares, in order to adapt Federico García Lorca’s poems to the music of the Canadian singer Leonard Cohen. In 1998 he was awarded the “Galardón de Honor de los Premios de la Música” and took part in the show “Canción con reflejo” by Cahro Vallés to pay homage to Federico García Lorca, along with the actor Francisco Rabal and his daughter Estrella Morente and it was performed at the Teatro Principal de Valencia in May. He has been acknowledged as one of the main responsibles for the cante renovation, as well as the best at adjusting the poetry of poets such as Miguel Hernández, García Lorca, The Machados, Lope de Vega, Al Mutamid, Bergamín, San Juan de la Cruz, Guillén, Alberti, Hierro, Luis Rius and Pedro Garfias to Flamenco. His daughter, Estrella Morente is becoming one of the best singers of the last few years. “I have finished the production of Estrella’s album and I have not started my next album yet. Recently, I have made music for Kafka’s Metamorphosis in the ballet created by the great dancer Israel Galván”. His compromise «We do not know any more who the terrorists are and who we must defend ourselves from”, He complains about the never – ending conflict in the Middle East. «I believe the most important presidents of the world have an enormous responsibility, because the people, the working classes in every normal country, wish to have peace. And any worker who might be asked for help or for a given tax, or for any other initiative as for example the one of the 0,7%, is never going to say no to any of these initiatives in order to solve the problems in the third world. Because the working people, anywhere, are always the first ones to cooperate.

Why do not they want to solve it, then? It is not easy, but it can be done a lot more if we take everybody’s help. And this is the reason why I wanted to do the anti – weapon pamphlet on behalf of all the musicians. My purpose was not a great work, but a pamphlet from Beethoven himself and on behalf of all musicians». Always ready for a dialogue with other musical traditions. Poetry has been the nexus on many occassions.

But this is not the only thing. On the 4th of May, 2001 he takes part in a chat coordinated by the newspaper “Ideal Digital” where he openly communicates with his fans. In Majorca, 20th July 2002, the Foundation Costa Nord holds the first ever performance of the first production promoted by this Culture Centre: The show AFRICA, CUBA, CAI. Enrique Morente was the leader of this project that mixes together Africa, Cuba, Cai and whose basic idea is that the African rhythm and expression have a clear impact on Latin – American musical tradition, and at the same time, they have strong links with Flamenco music. With the singer from Granada as the conductor, Spanish, Senegalese and Cuban musicians looked for the intersection of their expressions.

On the Spanish side, besides Enrique Morente, we have the guitarist from Almería Niño Josele, the percussionist from Madrid Piraña. On the African side we have the Senegalese band Djanbutu Thiossane, followers of the African traditional minstrels called griots. The band is formed by the percussionist brothers Ass, Mass and Pap, plus Kao, who plays the Kora, and the dancer Alboury Dabo. On the Cuban side we have Reynaldo Creagh, the voice of the Vieja Trova Santiaguera, and the pianist Pepesito Reyes as the guest stars to a band formed by the pianist Caramelo, Luis Varona and Juan Munguia for brass instruments. Morente's record "El pequeño reloj" is released in 2003.

There he breaks up the traditional concept of a flamenco record proposing a new vision of a record as a masterpiece,developing the idea of "time" from different points of view as if it were a poem book, giving a specific structure to lyrics and music. Morente combines tradition with technology in his flirtation with time. He puts on record an essential period of Flamenco music to which he belongs. He contributes to it with classical flamenco songs and music.

He enriches this period with a constant personal contribution. Morente experiments with new and surprising harmony, which has not come yet to modern flamenco. In 2005 Morente is awarded The Andalusian Medal in recognition for a laudable career totally dedicated to flamenco music as well as for his opening to other types of music and his contribution to its popularization all over the world. February 2006, the work "Morente sueña la Alhambra" in its double format (record and DVD) has been recognized by the National Critics with the following awards : - Best DVD - Best revelation side guitar recorded to Alfredo Lagos - Best "cante" record This same disc is recognized, in this same year, as better disc of Flamenco in the National Award of Music. And Enrique Nowadays Today Enrique is the man he has always been. The same man who 30 years ago was searching for new cantes and melodic ways. The same man who used to be visited by the late Camarón accompanied by a young Tomatito in Madrid: “Tomate, let’s go to Enrique’s house, to see what he’s up to now...”. Enrique is the same kind of man, the one who has never stayed at the same place for two cantes straight, the one of the thousand shades, the one who adjusts himself to everything and everybody, the one who leads the way because the others follow him, the one who is still learning even from himself, the same friendly, night loving man, the same restless Enrique, the same man who was asked for committed lyrics for left – winged people and made Manolo Sanlúcar hide behind the guitar because he did not know there were so many saints and virgins, the same man who has always looked straight into other people’s eyes. But what is really special about Enrique Morente is not his creative eagerness.

This eagerness has been inherited from the artists who lived before him. They were all looking for that detail, that sparkle, that music, those lyrics, that phrase or that show with which you could entertain people and be successful. Enrique is special because in this constant search, he has found many times what people expected, or he has shown a welcoming audience the unexpected. This is what makes Enrique Morente a great artist. Today’s Enrique is the Enrique admired by everyone because of what he does and the way he is...

He is the Enrique who suffers with each new project, the one who from time to time presents us with a gesture that reminds us of that bad – tempered adventurer Don Quixote, without material attachment, the one for who we would all wish we were Sancho. Today’s Enrique is our Enrique, the same as ever... the Flamenco Enrique. Read more on User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..

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