5✭ Fridays - Jorge Miguel
My introduction to Jorge Miguel was low key. I was in my office, trying to figure out a particular bug that I was experiencing, and a friend dropped by, slightly breathless, and said, "Come with me right now!" I hopped up and went with him, with no explanation, and had a problem keeping up. He exited the building and walked into the building right across from it. In the foyer, there was Jorge Miguel with a dancer to accompany him, playing an acoustic flamenco guitar to a group of about 30 staff and students.
Turns out it was a promotional stunt for a concert that he was playing later that night at the River Run Centre. We managed to procure for ourselves some tickets (to a sold out show, because we're well connected), and attended. It was an absolutely brilliant concert featuring the artists from his most recent recording; here they are as listed in the liner notes of "Flamenco", his most recent album.
- Jorge Miguel - flamenco guitar
- Paul Donat - double bass
- Daniel Stone - percussion and palmas
- Eliana Cuevas - vocals
- Ilse Gudino - dance
- Pam Briz Guijarro - castanets
Daniel Stone (pronounced "eh-sto-neh") is probably the one most responsible for making your hips want to move, and they will definitely want to move. I am certainly not a dancer, but listening to this music makes me want to become one; dance is an integral part of the experience. Paul Donat is a fantastic double bass player, keeping up with Jorge and the dancers with ease, even in the few songs that he uses his bow. Jorge surrounds himself with top quality musicians, but he is still the one who amazes me most.
I am a fairly accomplished musician, and I've played the guitar since I was 14; I could probably make a fair wage as a session guitarist if I wanted. Next to Jorge I sound like a 5 year old who has picked up a guitar for the first time. He has an incredible understanding of latin tonality, and his fingers are just so much quicker than I think mine will ever be, transitioning through scales and chords with blinding speed. His movement up and down a fretboard makes me weep a little bit. Listening to his album, you get an idea of what his hands are doing, but seeing him play live you come to understand the mastery that he has over his instrument.
I cannot end this without mentioning that his name is the hispanic equivalent of "George Michael", so I think it would be interesting and entertaining for Jorge to do a tango cover version of "Faith".
If you've never heard Jorge Miguel, track down some of his music. Plaza de Asdrubal (Bulerias) and Torontorías (Tangos) are personal favourites of mine, but all his songs are great. You can find more information about him at JorgeMiguel.com.