Cachito de la vida is the latest Flamenco album triumph by Tolouse guitarist Antonio Ruiz 'Kiko' who regularly performs with the Renaud Garcia-Fons trio, appearing on RGF's Navigatore and his newest live CD/DVD. Suffering a bad injury at the age of nine that threatened to lose him the use of one hand, his father gave him a guitar to distract him during his convalescence. By 1977, Ruiz took home a First Prize for guitar at the Casa Espana of Tolouse. Moving subsequently to Seville to learn the art of Flamenco at the cradle, he apprenticed with guitarist Manolo Sanlucar, befriended his brother Isidro Sanlucar and his star pupil Vicente Amigo, accompanied dancer Singla in Barcelona and five years after his Spanish relocation, captured a Third Prize in Jerez for his bulerias.
Upon returning to France, he rejoined Bernardo Sandoval and percussionist Pascal Rollando and began performing with flamenco fusion greats like bassist Carlos Benavent and sax player Jorge Pardo. In 1989, he formed Faena Flamenco with singer Jose Montealagre and guitarist El Salvador Paterna. He also embarked on an ongoing career as composer, in particular for El Duquende and Pele y Los Chicos. 1992 saw him carry away a First Prize for Flamenco guitar at the international contest in Nimes/France and perform with Flamenco legends Bernarda y Fernanda de Utrera, Carmen and Pepe Linares, Vicente Amigo, Jose Galvan, Concha Vargas and dancer Beatriz Romero. In 1995, he helped create Tauromagia for Jean Pierre Armand's theatrical company Dice Cup and 1998 saw the release of his long anticipated and then celebrated solo album Cuerda y Madera.
He has since performed at numerous prestigious festivals including the 14th Festival Music Winter "Flamenco meets Jazz" with Gerardo Nuñez and Esperanza Fernandez. Cachita de la Vida launched last year and finds Antonio joined by singer Blas Cordoba, bassist Renaud Garcia-Fons, drummers Negrito Trasante and Angelo Sanchez Gonzales 'Cepillo', Jean-Lois Martinier on accordion, Malik Richeuz on violin and Viejo, Paco, Curro, Mariano Zamora and Sabrina Romero on back-up chorus.
This is modern Flamenco and Flamenco fusion at its finest, expertly catching and running with the balls that trendsetter Vicente Amigo and Kiko himself with the Renaud Garcia-Fons trio keep hurling at the genre with every new release of theirs. Particular highlights of Cachita are the ensemble numbers with their truly hair-raising vocals compliments of Blas Cordoba, saucy chorus lines, the tango-esque accordion motifs Martinier interweaves seamlessly with Flamenco compas, bluesy flageolet violin introducing an Arabo/Jazz flavor, the mindblowing exploits of Garcia-Fons' singing bass that can transform the simplest of melodies into the most fantastically extended lyrical arcs of thematic development.
Cachita de la Vida satisfies both Flamenco Puro connoisseurs and those who primarily thrive on World Beat fusion. It carefully walks that thin line between respect for classical forms and well-informed stylistic modifications which help pioneer new musical forms to advance rather than detour or prostitute the art. No worries on the latter count. Cachita takes its place proudly alongside Momentos en el Sonido [Amigo] and Calima [Nuñez] as a modern Flamenco guitar classic. It's an exceptionally satisfying and well-rounded release that can reveal new subtleties and compositional subterfuges on many repeat visits. In fact, I've put track 7 on endless repeat and continued to be assaulted by those involuntary tear reactions despite knowing perfectly well what was in store. Now that's human passion encoded by form and delivery. It securely sprouts roots and flowers like a forgotten seed retrieved from an ancient Pharaonic grave, then simply being exposed to air, water and sun - or in this case, inserted into a CD player. Cachitas de la Vida deserves a standing ovation and belongs into the library of any serious music lover, not just diehard Flamenco fiends and experts.