Archive for August, 2011

Moraíto Chico’s Guitar Falls Silent

Amidst the whirlwind of news bites about riots in the UK and global stockmarket crises, the world of flamenco was further plunged into gloom on the morning of August 10th 2011 with the news that the brilliant, smiling, immensely talented guitarist Moraíto Chico had passed away. With his passing, a golden guitar has fallen silent. There was nothing unexpected about his death, because those close to Moraíto had known for a while that he was very ill. However, the finality of death brings with it a silence and an immense void.

Moraíto was a gitano from Jeréz, one of many stellar artists who have shaped the course of flamenco over the past thirty or forty years. Like the late Terremoto, he remained close to his roots and to his community. He was known for accompanying José Mercé and other singers, but he was also known for the strength of his solo performances. His guitar can be heard in two albums that he recorded solo, Morao, Morao and Morao y Oro. His last major public performance was at the flamenco festival in his native Jeréz this spring. Moraíto, as the name suggests, was the son of Morao (Juan Morao) and the nephew of Manuel Morao, two renown guitarists from Jeréz, that enviable cradle of genius in flamenco. His career as a guitarist started when he was only eleven years old, when he began to accompany the singer Paquera de Jeréz. Soon he became the guitarist for one of the most revered singing dynasties of gitanos from Jeréz — the family of El Sordera. This link has continued through long-term collaborations with José Mercé, nephew of El Sordera.

Moraíto had a wealth of knowledge when it came to compás, especially to the dark rhythms typical of the gypsies of Jeréz. His playing ranged from the lyrical to the tragic and the torrential. Even towards the end, when, as he put it, his ‘health had gone off the rails’ (‘tengo la salud despistada’ he said as he came on stage at the Jeréz festival this year), his fingers drew magic from the strings. As a guitarist, he was gentle and strong, immensely centred. He cut a figure on stage… his long, thick mane of hair, his sharp profile, his ready smile, his zest for life… He leaves behind the memory of his music and, even more importantly, a legacy that lives on. His son Diego del Morao is an incredibly promising young guitarist and a rising star.

Comments and condolences have been flowing in from all over the flamenco world… With his death, the old gypsy patio looks glaringly empty. Some say that he has gone to join the likes of Mairena, Ramón, Fernanda y Bernarda, Parrilla, Chocolate, Camarón, Terremoto, Enrique… for a fiesta gitana where a guitarist was sorely needed.


August 11, 2011 Posted Under: General   Read More