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Interview: Bart Stenhouse

Accomplished Australian world fusion guitarist Bart Stenhouse is joined by renowned Spanish flamenco guitarist Paco Heredia in a very special concert

Accomplished Australian world fusion guitarist Bart Stenhouse is joined by renowned Spanish flamenco guitarist Paco Heredia in a very special concert that sees the two embark on a 19-date national tour. Bart spoke with The Echo about the musical meeting of minds.

Bart, where did you and Paco first meet?

This tour will be the first time we have met face to face.  I was recommended to check out his music by a mutual friend of ours, tabla player Surojato Roy, who is based in Calcutta, India. Surojato has toured Europe with Paco and toured Australia with me last April. I wrote to Paco to invite him out to Australia to collaborate with me here for the Flamenco Meets Jazz tour concept and he said he was thrilled to work me (ie a jazz guy who has studied flamenco and Indian music). We exchanged music with each other, loved what the other did, and both said okay let’s make it happen! These concerts will really be a mix of traditional and modern flamenco and where it intersects with jazz (modern flamenco jazz essentially). The Bangalow show will also feature multiple percussionists.

How does your playing change or adapt when you play with someone like Paco?

Each tour with any international artist is a huge opportunity to grow and adapt as a player/artist. After I toured Australia with virtuosic gypsy jazz guitarist Lulo Reinhardt last year, I noticed a huge increase in ideas, concepts and techniques work their way into my playing and musical compositions. I am sure it will be the same after touring with a flamenco genius such as Paco. And all of the conversations on the road together about every element of music making and playing are a massive influence too.

Can you tell me what it is about Paco’s playing that you most admire?

Sure. I would have to say his ability to be completely across the traditional elements, techniques, structures and history of flamenco music but also being able to keep one eye on where the music is heading and forging new ground there.  In this way we are both on the same mission within our respective musical traditions/genres. His playing and compositions seem fresh and unique to me; he reminds me at times of great flamenco players such as Vicente Amigo and Paco De Lucia.

What do you think you will learn in the time you’ll be playing together on tour?

I am really looking forward to being able to sit for long periods with such an accomplished player such as Paco, and think it will really help consolidate my knowledge of compas (the rhythm structre of the music), the palos (the different styles of flamenco), and get closer to mastering some right-hand techniques such as alzapua (a tricky thumb strumming technique), and picado (the fast alternating picking with your index and middle fingers) that I have been working on for years!

How important is collaboration for guitarists like yourself?

Very important. It’s a great opportunity to take a step back from your own tradition and look at things from a fresh or different perspective. I see collaboration as a means to have a rich musical conversation, and just like any conversation in life it’s hard for any in-depth and sustained conversation not to leave their mark long term.

Tell me about the workshops that are part of the tour.

We will be running a local workshop with Paco while he is here in town on the same day as the concert – Thursday 5 April at the same venue, The Bangalow Bowlo Hall.

Tickets for both the concert and workshop are available from www.bartstenhouse.com/events

Tickets are $40 adult and $35 concession for both the concert and workshop.


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