Among Spanish Gypsies, it isn't hard to find families in which many of the males are taught to play flamenco guitar at an early age. In such Gypsy families, parents don't have to pay for the kids to have music lessons -- the father is likely to do a lot of the teaching himself, and chances are that there will be some guitar-playing uncles, cousins, or older brothers on hand to provide additional instruction. So by being born into Granada's very musical Cortés family, Miguel Angel Cortés had a major advantage when it came to learning flamenco guitar. The Gypsy was in his late twenties when he recorded Patriarca, a promising, mostly instrumental 2000 release that ranges from traditional flamenco to more modern nuevo flamenco. Cortés has obviously mastered flamenco's basics, including the bulería and rumba styles; but the Granada native isn't afraid to stretch out and do some non-traditional things, such as employing a jazz-influenced saxophonist (Agustín Carrillo) on the rhumba "Kuriachi" and using a tabla drummer (J.A. Galicia) on "La Puerta del Sueño" and "Al Likindoy." While tabla drums are very traditional in India and Pakistan, they're hardly traditional in Spain. Galicia is also heard on the darbuka, a drum that is prominent in traditional Middle Eastern and North African forms. Although you won't hear a lot of flamenco recordings that employ a darbuka, Cortés' use of the instrument actually makes a lot of sense --after all, Spain once had an Islamic population, and the influence of Arabic music remained in Spain despite the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition. From the traditional to the contemporary, Patriarca makes it clear that Cortés is someone flamenco enthusiasts need to be aware of.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson