More than any other modern player, Paco de Lucía (1947–2014) revolutionized flamenco music by seamlessly integrating jazz, “fusion,” pan-Mediterranean and other elements into the traditional art form beginning in the late 1960s, but accelerating in the early and mid-’70s. In the late ’70s he teamed up with fellow guitar virtuosos such as Carlos Santana, John Mclaughlin, and Al DiMeola, as well as instrumentalists not generally associated with live flamenco performances (such as electric bass), and blazed a trail that at once transformed flamenco while it also exposed jazz, rock and other music fans to that rich Andalusian tradition, which Paco never abandoned; only broadened.
This 1976 performance of what is perhaps Paco’s best-known composition shows him at an early commercial peak. The flamenco rumba was originally recorded in 1973 for an album called Fuente y caudal, but was re-released in 1976 as the title cut on his first solo compilation. It was even a successful single in Spain that year. The guy had serious chops. —Blair Jackson