Working for the Berklee Blogs is one of the best jobs I could have ever asked for. As many of you know I consistently get to meet and interview incredible artists providing me the opportunity to understand and assimilate their experiences. Last week I had the pleasure to meet one of the most upcoming voices in Flamenco guitar in the world. Young artist Juanito Pascual agreed to meet and chat with me in Harvard Square last Thursday. We discussed his career, his musical development and his very unique and personally inspiring career choice in a genre that isn’t inherently american, even though he is. Hailing from Minneapolis, MN, the 39 year old guitarist will be playing a double-bill show at the Somerville Theatre on November 3rd, Saturday at 8:00pm with young prodigy and guitar virtuoso, Julian Lage. Below is the video of myself and Juanito talking music. Enjoy 🙂
Juanito Pascual and Julian Lage are two of the strongest names when it comes to young guitarists. Pascual stated to me that one of his strongest characteristics is musical curiosity which led him to venture in many different genres in his life, ranging from Jimmy Hendrix to Paco de Lucía. This versatility and so called ‘curiosity’ has given him the recognition amongst Spanish artists as “a unique and creative voice with mesmerizing virtuosity, warm and evocative playing, and original compositional style.” Juanito started to play the guitar when he was young, and as a teenager he decided to move to to Spain to immerse himself in the flamenco culture. While living in Madrid, the guitarist played in subways and studied with the legendary flamenco guitarists that resided in the city.
Juanito and Andre Vasconcelos after the interview. Photo by Stanley Moon.
After his time in Spain, Juanito decided to come back to the United States and to attend to the prestigious New England Conservatory. He then had a subsequent string successes including performances with with some of today’s who’s who of Flamenco, Jazz and World Music acts, having collaborated with Boston-based composer Osvaldo Golijov on his Grammy-winning opera Ainadamar, performing in prominent Spanish nightclubs and even landing a small part in the movie Pink Panther 2 with Steve Martin!
Juanito also told me that he will be one of the featured artists in The Rock Concerto, a new work by the virtuoso classical violinist Alex Markov with performances in Miami, Turkey and Mexico. A Carnegie Hall performance is on the schedule for 2013. The guitarist told me first hand about the project that it would be a very interesting concert featuring two sets of music. The first set would be entirely made of classical composition being played the the violinist by himself and that the second set would be made of New York’s most accomplished rock musicians and a very large band that included a almost 90 piece choir and a Flamenco guitar seat, to be filled by Juanito.
The Somerville Theatre show is being presented by Juanito Pascual and will feature the debut of the Juanito Pascual New Flamenco Trio composed of percussionist Tupac Mantilla and bassist Brad Barrett. Juanito has two albums out “Cosas en Comun” and “Language of the Heart” and is now working on recording his new piece with the trio. Juanito also released a Flamenco guitar method book published by Alfred called The Total Flamenco Guitarist. Pascual claims that the trio is a culmination of a lifetime goal of being able to use the Flamenco language as a base to summon all of the other influences that he has such as blues, rock and jazz. A Flamenco power trio if you will.
Joining Juanito as the double-bill on the Somerville Theatre concert is none other then Julian Lage. Described as “a giant in the making” by All About Jazz the Californian guitarist was the subject of an Academy Award-nominated documentary, Jules at Eight. He gained pivotal early exposure as a protégé of legendary vibraphonist Gary Burton, recording and touring with Burton on two projects: Generations (2004) and Next Generation (2005). Other recent high-profile sideman appearances include Lucky To Be Me and Let It Come To You by longtime friend and close collaborator, pianist Taylor Eigsti. Having reunited with Gary Burton for live engagements beginning in 2010, Julian can also be heard this year as a member of the “New Gary Burton Quartet” on the forthcoming CD Common Ground (featuring Scott Colley and Antonio Sanchez).
Julian Lage is a child prodigy, he began performing in public at the age of six. At age 13 Lage performed at the 2000 Grammy Awards. He was classically trained at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music then he has studied at Sonoma State University, the Ali Akbar College of Music, and is a graduate of or own Berklee College of Music.
His previous album “Sounding Point” earned him a grammy nomination. The 2009 masterpiece reflects the young prodigy’s large array of musical interests. His more recent work “Gladwell” is a very interesting conceptual work in which Julian wanted to create soundscapes through his and his ensemble’s performance. They constructed a story that would be told through their compositions. “We began playing with the idea of creating a story we could use as a guiding light in our writing process… The result was the development of an imaginary and forgotten town known as Gladwell … As a metaphor, Gladwell presented us with a clear architecture, to compose songs that evoke feelings of people and places we hold dear.” Says Julian Lage.
Julian Lage and his eclectic group with cellist Aristides Rivas, percussionist Tupac Mantilla, saxophonist Dan Blake. and bassist Jorge Roeder.
I originally intended to do an interview video with both artists Juanito Pascual and Julian Lage to for this article that focuses on their upcoming guitar showcase this Saturday however due to the weather events caused ty hurricane Sandy, I was unable to go to New York and meet with Julian.
November 3rd promises to be a spectacular concert featuring two young brilliant guitarists and composers as well as their fabulous ensembles. I recommend every single person reading this blog to come check their music out. Two incredibly different and extremely talented musicians will take the beautiful stage of the Somerville Theatre for what will be guaranteed a night to remember!
See you there 🙂