Manuel Moreno Junquera, ‘Moraíto Chico’ was one of the finest flamenco guitarists of his generation. Born in the barrio of Santiago in Jerez de la Frontera in 1955, he was the son of Juan Morao ‘Moraíto’ (Juan Moreno Jiménez, 1935–2002) and the nephew of Manuel Morao (Manuel Moreno Jiménez, 1929), both guitarists, who had studied with the legendary Javier Molina (1868–1956). His own son, the guitarist Moraíto Hijo (b.1979), who is also known as Diego de Morao, fortunately has been carrying on this remarkable family tradition.
Moraíto Chico made his debut at the age of 11, performing at the Plaza de Toros in Jerez at the annual festival which his uncle, Manuel Morao, organised.
He was a sensitive and gifted accompaniest to many flamenco singers, including José Mercé – Moraíto accompanied José Mercé on most recent recording called Ruido which was released in 2010, where he also performed a solo por bulerías.
As a soloist everything Moraíto played was infused with such a strong rhythmic power and an economy of expression. Listen to this incredible performance at the Jerez Festival.
His last public performance was at the Flamenco Festival in Nimes in January 2011.
Moraíto’s first recording, Morao y Oro, was released in 1992 and won the Grand Prix du Disque in France. He performs with the singer, El Torta, Jos Antonio Fernández Mariscal on electric bass and Chicharrito on cajón.
Moraíto’s second recording, Morao, Morao, was released in 1999 and featured collaborations with Navajita Plateá, Los Marismeños, Luis El Zambo and María Vala; it was re-released by Nuevos Medios in 2005.
To hear Moraíto’s art of accompanying singers, there is a recording from 1991 (Auvidis Ethnic) called Jerez: Fiesta y Cante Jondo where he accompanies Antonio de Malena, Mijita hijo, El Barrullo, El Chico, El Torta and Manuel Moneo.
Moraíto’s uncle, Manuel Morao worked with Manolo Caracol, Niña de los Peines and in Antonio’s ballet company. There are many recordings of him accompanying singers such as Antonio Mairena, La Paquera de Jerez, Terremoto and Sernita. He established the ‘Gitanos de Jerez’ in 1987 to promote young artists from Jerez de la Frontera; they toured throughout the world and one of their most successful young artists has been the flamenco dancer Sara Baras, who joined the Gitanos de Jerez company in 1989. The Gitanos de Jerez have made several recordings, such as:
Bulerias en Compás de Origen featuring Manuel Morao and the Gitanos de Jerez, that is, María Monje, Chico Pacote, Macarena Moneo, Juan Junquera, Joaquín el Zambo, Carmen la Cantarota and Antonio el Monea.
© 2011 Thérèse Wassily Saba