When a guitar has a narrative – Juan Carmona Habichuela passes away on 30th June 2016

I am not good in commemorating passed away stars. However, I take it as an opportunity to write about the speciality of Juan Carmona’s guitar play and his importance to flamenco.In flamenco there is a concept called “jondo” – deep, from the bottom of the soul. If a performance goes to that level it also reaches this level with the listener. At least, this is my experience when I listen to maestros of this kind. In words it is truly difficult to describe the play of Juan Carmona, but I found the following impressions during my search on the web: “If something is overwhelming over the sound of uncle Juan, then it was the deepness over the essential technical and harmonic bases. So easy, but at the same time so difficult”:

The solo guitar play of Juan Carmona Habichuela is very focused on melody and ornaments. Apart from being an exceptional soloist, he also accompanied famous flamenco singers. In the following performances with Jose Mercé (Tangos) and Fosforito (Jabeos) in his young age we can find a very equilibrated co-existence of guitar play and singing. Juan Carmona Habichuela respected the personalities of the singers resulting in a perfect match between the two artistic expressions in flamenco. Also his knowledge and awareness of the different flamenco styles (palos) makes him a distinguishable artist.

For sure, the passing away of an almost epic star, is a great loss for the musical landscape of flamenco. Flamenco is a very flexible art form. Other than in other European music forms, flamenco is a clan phenomenon. Flamenco is passed from generation to generation within a family and shared with contemporaries during spontaneous gatherings with family and friends. The dynasty of Carmonas, had besides Juan Carmona Habichuela also three brothers, all guitarists. Juan Carmona’s brother, Pepe Habichuela performs with Dave Holland and band at Jazz Baltica 2010. the two sons of Juan Carmona Habichuela, José Carmona and Antonio Carmona, are members of the flamenco-fusion group Ketama.

The Carmonas are a very explicit example of how flamenco evolved and mixed with other music styles over decades. Definitely for the future guitarists Juan Carmona Habichuela’s style will remain worthy to study.