- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 17, 2001

Flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia will perform Friday at the Warner Theatre, the starting point for a North American tour with a repertoire that includes his latest release, "Luzia," as well as older pieces.

"Luzia," recorded in 1998, is considered a return to more traditional forms of flamenco. It also pays homage to Mr. de Lucia's late mother, Lucia Gomez. The CD calls her Luzia because the artist wants to emphasize his mother's Portuguese roots (the "c" becomes a "z" in Portuguese).

The artist composed this disc, which got rave reviews in Spain, during the six months his mother was hospitalized before her death.

"Luzia" features Mr. de Lucia's brother Pepe de Lucia as the "cantaor" (flamenco singer), as well as longtime collaborators Carlos Benavent on mandola and Tino De Geraldo on percussion. Acclaimed Joaquin Grilo is the dancer.

"For me, in 'Luzia' and all these records of mine that supposedly are more traditional, there is always a move forward," the artist says in a written statement.

Some of the elements he has introduced in his playing and composing, once controversial among flamenco purists, have since become the new standard.

"Within the flamenco orthodoxy, I was not taken seriously at first," Mr. de Lucia says. "At some point, I was sacrilegious. Now it turns out, I'm a master."

Mr. de Lucia, who was born in Algeciras, Spain, in 1947, recorded his first album in 1961 with brother Pepe. His father was a guitar aficionado who wanted his sons to become great flamenco artists so that they would not have to endure the economic difficulties he did.

The father succeeded. The family has another prestigious artist, in addition to Pepe and Paco — guitarist Ramon de Algeciras (his artistic name).

When he was 13, Mr. de Lucia met the legendary cantaor Camaron de la Isla, one of his greatest influences. A piece in the "Luzia" release is dedicated to him.

Mr. de Lucia's art also has been influenced by guitarist Sabicas, whom he met during a tour in the United States. The guitarist encouraged Mr. de Lucia to pursue a more personal style, advice that would lead him to explore and combine flamenco with jazz, rock blues and classical.

Since then, he has made 18 albums of his own and countless others accompanying singers. He has composed and performed film soundtracks with artists such as Chick Corea, Larry Coryell and Al DiMeola.

At the Warner, he will perform with his septet and a flamenco dancer.WHAT: Paco de LuciaWHERE: Warner Theatre, 13th and E streets NWWHEN: 7:30 p.m. FridayTICKETS: $25 to $55PHONE: 202/432-SEAT

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