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The flamenco singer – cantaor – Tomás Pavón (1893–1952) may not be so well these days but he was one the finest singers of the first half of the 20th century and is an important link in the history of flamenco. He was attracted to flamenco styles which were not so popular during his own time but were performed by singers such as Enrique Jiménez ‘El Mellizo’ (1848–1906).

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Manuel Bohórquez Casado has published a well-researched biography of Tomás Pavón called Tomás Pavón – El Príncipe de la Alameda. (Pozo Nuevo 2007), which gives us not only a rich picture of the life and work of this cantaor, but also puts him in the context of his peers and his predecessors. Tomás Pavón was born in Seville and was the brother of the flamenco singers Arturo Pavón and Pastora Pavón, who was known as ‘La Niña de los Peines’.

Tomás Pavón made very few recordings, so it is a great bonus that this biography also includes a 21-track CD. On these recordings, which span over 20 years, he is accompanied by the guitarists Niño Ricardo (1927), Manolo de Badajoz (1930) and Melchor de Marchena (1947). They have been well remastered, with just a little bit of the usual crackle that comes with historical recordings. There are Fandanguillos, Soleá, Bulerías and Seguidillas. The quality of the Saetas En el patio de Caifás and Detente Judas en la venta was not always good, however, I was very grateful to have the opportunity to hear them. I found the Media Granadina A mi mare por su alma very moving. Even more wonderful is the Martinete y debla En el barrio de Triana, which he sings unaccompanied.

Manuel Bohórquez Casado is a journalist and flamenco critic from Seville and has published a number of books about flamenco, including a biography of ‘La Niña de los Peines’. His books are published in Spanish, but even if your Spanish is minimal, you would enjoy the recording, the very special collection of old photographs and perhaps the transcription of some of the poetry, which he sings, such as this debla

En el barrio de Triana    

ya no hay pluma ni tintero    

pa escribirle yo a mi mare  

que hace tres años que no la veo.

© 2010 Thérèse Wassily Saba

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