The Guitars of Spain ensemble formed in 1999, when guitarist,
Carlo Basile was researching material for his Master's Degree Lecture/Recital
titled "Flamenco Music and Spain's Nationalist Composers." Along
with other guitarists and dancers who were studying flamenco music from
Spain, Carlo put together a series of "Flamenco Night" performances
(at Martyr's and then, later, at the Hothouse in Chicago) that gave everyone
a chance to "practice their chops."
The "Flamenco Night" series was quite successful and lasted
for a few years. It also led to collaborations with many fine musicians
and dancers from the Chicago music scene such as Doug Brush (percussion),
Issa Boulos (oud), David Gonzalez (vocals), Patricia Ortega-Alonso (vocals),
Tomas de Utrera (guitar), Peter Baime (guitar), Julie Goldberg (guitar),
Hector Fenandez (guitar), Greg Nergaard (bass), Colin Bunn (tres guitar),
Wendy Clinard (dancer), Kalyan Pathak (tabla), Siri Sonty (Indian dance),
Kinan Abou-afach (cello), and quite a few others.
In 2000, Carlo Basile, David Gonzalez, and Patricia Ortega-Alonso composed
some new music based on Spanish classical and flamenco guitar forms.
That material became the basis for the ensemble's first CD release,
"Donde Esta' Paco?" (released on indie label Sweet Pickle
Music). Soon after, the ensemble began to receive some attention outside
of the "flamenco scene." The music began to evolve into a
fusion of styles that included Afro-Cuban percussion, Latin American
forms, Middle Eastern grooves, and Classical Indian music as well.
In 2001, the ensemble visited Cuba to explore and study some of the
traditional music of the island. Much of the music that was composed
on that trip paved the way for the ensemble's second release, "Ida
y Vuelta." This second CD, "Ida y Vuelta"( Sweet Pickle
Music 2002) has enjoyed world wide distribution and critical success.
The music is regularly featured on NPR's "La Voz Latina" program.
As well, it has sold out of it's first pressing and it continues to
chalk up sales at Amazon.com and dozens of other internet sites for
In 2003 and early 2004, members of the ensemble traveled to Spain,
Morocco, India, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia. The ensemble also collaborated
with Shona musicians from Zimbabwe, Africa in the summer of 2003 and
Rajasthani musicians from India in early 2004. All of these travels
and collaborations have, of course, influenced the ensemble's approach
to creating new music based on traditional forms: "We continue
to seriously study traditional flamenco and other world music forms,
yet as artists, we also feel a need to express in our music and dance
our personal life experiences ranging from our travels to visual arts,
poetry and literature, as well as our own music heritages."