"Tomás de Perrate, cantaor from Utrera with a strong but sweet voice, cracked and flamenco on all its sides. He can say that he is part of a whole series of glorious gypsy flamenco dynasties from Jerez, Utrera, Lebrija, Algeciras.
He is from the Fernández (Perrates) of Utrera, the Soto de Jerez, the Peña de Lebrija. Grandson of the mythical Manuel Torres, nephew of María la Perrata, son of Perrate de Utrera, cousin of Juan Peña el Lebrijano, second cousin of David Peña Dorantes, related to the two great ladies of Utrera, Bernarda and Fernanda, with the Terremoto de Jerez... I get lost....
On the evening of Monday 14 January 2019 he sang accompanied by the wise, virtuoso, creative and versatile guitar of Alfredo Lagos from Jerez in the auditorium of the recently inaugurated Roman Museum of Nîmes (Musée de la Romanité). On a platform, a few centimetres at ground level. Two chairs of dwarf, a small table to the right of Perrate. No microphones, in acoustic concert, with invisible amplifiers.
This concert is essentially based on the show premiered at the Teatro Central de Sevilla as part of the XX Bienal 2018 entitled Soleá Sola, with which Perrate began a new cycle of opening up to other types of music and stage experiments, with his voice always in the background and with a large cast of artists.
Main guitarist Alfredo Lagos, guest guitarist Paco de Amparo, descendant of the great Diego del Gástor, Juan Manuel Jiménez's saxophone and Antonio Moreno's percussion, both from Proyecto Lorca and as guest artists the cantaora Inés Bacán and the electric guitarist Raúl Refree. An opening to contemporary music in which flamenco is inserted at the root of vocals and other things, such as the wink to Astor Piazzola, medieval romances and the end of the festival the chacona Boa Doña.
Soleá Sola is not a revolutionary project, it is something that other artists have been doing for years. Its originality lies in Perrate's own openness to the experience of verifying the sound effect of his voice, both with his flamenco-rooted registers and with other registers that are new to him. It is a personal experience, a change of cycle, a look at greater expressive freedom, a realisation of the multiple musical possibilities within his reach, just look at them and put them into practice. It is a courageous decision that not everyone understands even at this point in the 21st century! But Tomás de Perrate doesn't care much about that. Whoever wants to remain anchored in the past is his responsibility.
At the Nîmes concert they were alone, hand in hand with cantaor and guitarist. And they started with the well-known Romance de Melisenda a compás de soleá por bulerías. Tomás presents everything he's going to perform very well and also tells us that tonight is the musical inauguration of this auditorium of the Roman Museum. Since June 2, 2018, which was inaugurated, the first concert!
Now it continues by seguidillas that not seguiriyas old of Alosno, from where they derive the sevillanas, the fandangos of Huelva and perhaps the bulerías. Tomás de Perrate dixit.
The complicity between both artists is evident at all times and also the creative participation of Alfredo Lagos. One of the great moments of the night is the soleá of Utrera and Lebrija. Perrate takes advantage of the presentation to say that the magic is in the tempo, that no flamenco song is free, although it is true that some people don't think that way. Maybe in a very distant time it was like that with some cantes, they even say the seguiriya. When flamenco was a matter of peasants and neighbours' patios, when it didn't have the social recognition that it has now.
Bulerías from home, seguiriyas from Lebrija, and here the guitar sounds quasi religious of pure solemnity. There is a singing and playing effect that seems to make the guitar sing and the voice become an instrument. Stellar moment.
The novelty came with the Greek tangos, because the tangos of Astor Piazzola that they interpret next have been for a long time, thanks to Camerata Flamenco Project, flamenco material. But here, with Perrate and Lagos, they sound much more flamenco, although they also sound somewhat from Buenos Aires and above all they drive the audience crazy with their Loco, loco, loco. Here, Tomás de Perrate goes beyond the Buenos Aires register of his flamenco voice.
As in Seville, the night ends with the 18th century Chacona, Boa Doña. Very up to date, lively and excellently theatrically performed by Perrate with the with the indispensable contribution of Alfredo Lagos, who in this festival shows the public his enormous versatility, here and above all in Leonor Leal's show, which we will talk about.
I spoke a lot with Tomás the morning before the concert of the voice of Utrera, of the peculiarities of the bulería from Utrera and other differences, idiosyncrasies and nuances that make this geography bordering the Guadalquivir, Alcalá de Guadaíra, Lebrija, Utrera, Morón and Jerez de la Frontera unique for many reasons... And of course Seville, Cádiz and Los Puertos.
And tonight I am learning in the best possible way, with the close cante of Tomás de Perrate, a cante that today represents that voice and style from Utrera, that greater openness of the cante, that peculiar slowness full of vivacity, of that solemnised bulería that brings it closer to the spirituality of the soleá... nuances that endow Utrera's cante with its own personality, which in short enrich this art that has never been learned, that even the master poet of flamenco José María Velázquez - Gaztelu tells me that he is an apprentice.”