Photographs and Commentary by Debra Jan Bibel

    Music:  Las Mil y Una Noches [Encuentros  / Juan Peña Lebrijano & Orquesta Andalusi de Tanger / GlobeStyle: 3 min excerpt]   Arabo-Flamenco Fusion

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Granada, the last stronghold of Islamic Spain. Our outstanding musical tour had additional pleasures in store, but once again Eduardo had a restaurant in mind for lunch on our drive to this city of song. We came to Antequera in the Málaga district. There within a bullfight arena, la  plaza de toros, is La Espuela, another grand restaurant celebrating flamenco and matadors.  We finally arrived in downtown Granada, where our lodgings were at Hotel Aben Humeya, a funky old hotel where not everything worked and some amenities were missing. I took a short walk up the street and immediately saw a photocopy store. This was, or would have been, a big deal, for in Madrid and then at last in Sevilla, after much searching,  did I manage to locate one to reproduce some flamenco and Arabic maqam  fact sheets for the group. I continue to walk up the street and—lo!—another photocopy shop. And beside it a bookstore, indeed, a science and medical bookshop, which grabbed my attention, for I am a retired medical scientist,  How strange, thought I. A few more steps up the block and beheld a third photocopy store and yet another medical book store. I looked left across the street and then everything was explained. It was the Medical School of the University of Granada. We were across the street from the campus, where some 65,000 students attend.  Later in the evening, after an unimpressive buffet dinner at the hotel, Yuval and company talked about and demonstrated the Jewish influence within flamenco. As Jews and soon thereafter Muslims left Spain, the arriving gypsies found a rich assortment of music. They adapted the melodies but applied their traditional rhythms to make them their own.


Dawn as we leave Sevilla.

La Plaza de Toros. Knights of the Rectangular Table. The matador corner. Above Bonnie, a photo of El Camarón de la Isla, cantaor. Wines and beer.

At last, classic Valencian paella: delicious.

Let the toasts begin.

Another zinger from Oscar.

Norik always has a flute handy.

An explanation.

One last point.

Norik's Magic Case. Entry into the plaza. No bulls in sight. The VIP seat. Special seats for the press, administrators, and the doctor.  
  Music in the Tudor room. An old Jewish melody. Maya in characteristic stance. Rhythm beneath song; the key difference between flamenco and old Ladino tunes.


The next morning is a tour of Alhambra, the red [iron oxide] mount where sumptuous palaces overlooked the countryside. In the adjacent modern gardens, designed in various European styles—Italian, French, English—were many allergens [achoo!] and opium plants.  We were told that there typically is a 6-month waiting list for tickets and sectional security checks were aplenty.  Three palaces remain of five; Napolean destroyed two and also the medina of supporting buildings. 

A pomegranate bush.

Vista to entry fort and church.

Command of the heights. Part of the protective wall. Our informative and sometimes droll guide.

Precious water; modern treatment.

Entrance through the Bab.

Fortress garden.

Column decoration. A wall of Allah script. A view out from within. Standard Moorish windows.
Always patio water. A welcoming doorway. A niche of glory. Inside the Sultan's then King's palace reception hall. Here came Columbus. Here came Isaac Abravenel to plead against exile of the Jews. Observation outward without being seen. The harem palace with architecture influenced by European monasteries.
Not what it seems. The calm of reflection. Colonnade; a touch of the Gothic. Heavenly heights. Arch series. Echo-dampening stalactites.
Right side colonnade. Palace of Carlos [Charles] V. Architectural detail. The arena inside the palace. Maya discovers instant sound feedback at the center; echo and source become one. View toward Albayzin, the old Arab district.

Saturated with Islamic architecture, our group had one more treat: a visit to an old cave in the Sacromonte hillside for a gypsy dinner party of music and very tasty tapas. The place also provided boarding and managed by Rakel, sister of one of Yuval's friends, Gabi.  It proved to be an international event, as a Japanese violinist, Maya, and another violinist, a newly arrived German fellow, who plays in a rock band, also joined the jam. A musical surprise was gypsy guitarist David Heredia, who with his dancer partner, traveled far and near and developed a unique flamenco style that was different than jazzy flamenco nuevo but more related in spirit to Brazil's Baden-Powell. Learning that he has never recorded, I strongly urged him to do so that many more people can share in his art. The juergo lasted long and most of us soon departed for the hotel by taxi or foot. Yuval and fellow musicians carried on.

Walking in the rain, a view of Alhambra. We enter the Sacromonte. Looking down from the street. Retaining wall along the Camino del Sacromonte. Through a small entrance garden into the cave. Looking back through the portal.
Savory tapas. Yum! Sangria Station. Yuval takes it all in. Norik is amused. Mark and Lara in Wonderland. Yuval and Gabi's brother.
Outside is a torrent of wind and wetness. Karen and Shirley are cozy and warm. Dalia and Kaye deal with a camera. Fine guitar fingering. Something amusing captures these musicians. A Django/Grapelli number.
The guitar is flamenco's friend. Portrait:
David Heredia y su amiga.
Las palmas intensity the music. . . .  and now to dance! Baile! Click! Click! Click!
Ole! Feeling the music. Herr violinist. Flamenco HOT! Flamenco mas nuevo. David and friend approve.
The love of music. Time to dance once more. Flowing. Todo es bueno. A 19th Century Painting. Enter the home team.
Norik and David. The juergo in ernest. Improvisational duo. Return of the violin. New timbre: the two-sided hang (pronounced han) made of nitrided steel. Chordophone and idiophone.
The sound becomes orchestral. The right side of the cave. From above. Once more from the top. Maya adds voice to the mix. From below.
Musician Portrait #1 Musician Portrait #2
Norik Manoukian
Musician Portrait #3
Yuval Ron
Musician Portrait #4
Jamie Papish
Musician Portrait #5 Musician Portrait #6
Maya Oshiba
Musician Portrait #7
Emilio Maya
Musician Portrait #8
David Heredia
Cantaor Portrait #1
Maya Haddi
Cantaor Portrait #2 Cantaor Portrait #3
Esther Crisol:
 First Prize, Jóvenes Flamencos, 2009
The Rhythm of Life!

Pshew!  What a day! What a night!

Appendix: Food


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On to Madrid