In 1950, Alan Lomax left the United States to avoid being snared in the anti-communist net cast by Senator McCarthy and others. He traveled to England and Europe, conducting a number of field recordings that helped revitalize interest in traditional folk music. In 1952, Lomax traveled to Extremadura, Spain, an isolated region bordering Portugal. The collection begins with several dance numbers that feature Manuel Garcia Matos on a small, three-holed flute called the gaita y tamboril. The melodious instrument, backed by percussion, recalls the drum and fife music of traditional blues musicians in the southern United States. A group of women sing in unison on "I Love You" and "Here You Have Her Before You," accompanied by a large tambourine called a pandero. A number of other recordings, including "Count Claros in Friars Garb" and "With This Little Rabel," feature a cappella solo performances by male and female singers. As with Lomax's field recordings of another isolated region, the Georgia Sea Islands, recordings like "The Shepherd's Will" reveal glimpses of much older cultures. Texts of a number of these ballads originated in the Middle Ages and Renaissance era. This collection also adds a number of previously unreleased pieces, making The Spanish Recordings: Extremadura another fine entry in The Alan Lomax Collection. Field recording enthusiasts will appreciate this fine anthology.
The Spanish Recordings: Extremadura Review
by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.