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On Monday 5 July 2010 the flamenco guitarist Pepe Habichuela performed with the jazz bass player Dave Holland at the Barbican, London. Also in their quintet was the flamenco guitarist Josemi Carmona – the son of Pepe and member of the now disbanded Spanish super group Ketama, and two percussionists: el Bandolero and Juan Habichuela – Pepe’s great nephew.

It was a great performance. Dave Holland’s bass playing fit in so smoothly with the straight flamenco pieces. He has been seriously dedicated to learning all about flamenco for the past few years and that commitment shows in his playing – you forget that he is a jazz musician because what he plays sounds so flamenco.

Dave Holland was introduced to Pepe Habichuela a few years ago by the Spanish record producer Mario Pacheco. Like many flamenco artists, Pepe Habichuela has made some really special recordings for Mario Pacheco on his Nuevos Medios label.

Pepe Habichuela and David Holland have just released a recording together called Hands (Universal Music Spain), which includes many of the pieces from their Barbican concert, such as: Hands – a fandango de huelva, Camaron – a taranta, Bailaor – a seguiriya cabal, as well as two of Dave Holland’s own pieces: The Whirling Dervish and Joyride.

Over dinner, I managed to get a close look at Pepe Habichuela’s powerful right-hand thumb, which produces such earthy and expressive melodic lines and a great alzapúa. 


Josemi Carmona, Juan Carmona, el Bandolero and Pepe Habichuela.

© 2010 Thérèse Wassily Saba