June 10, 2021

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Jorge Pardo: intimate portrait of a musician in a trance

1623323711 Jorge Pardo intimate portrait of a musician in a trance
Jorge Pardo, last week, in a central Madrid street.
Jorge Pardo, last week, in a central Madrid street.KIKE TO

Jorge Pardo you have a message on your voicemail. It’s from his girlfriend and it’s not good news: “You cancel me the weekend for the second time. You say you can’t meet and you don’t explain anything. I would ask you for a little complicity, because if not, don’t have a relationship. That’s good for you, man. Can not be…”. The woman does not raise her voice, it is a tone of defeat. After listening to it, the musician, who has just arrived home after a concert, goes to the kitchen, pours himself a glass of wine and sits down to reflect with the starry sky surrounding him. The image is beautiful; what goes through the head of the musician maybe not so much.

Even in these intimacies penetrates the documentary Trance (which is released now at the Malaga festival and soon in theaters), whose protagonist is Jorge Pardo (Madrid, 64 years old), a different musician, accustomed to moving on the margins, a key piece in the integration of flamenco with jazz and National Prize for Current Music 2015. Pardo smiles when he remembers that moment from the movie. “It has also happened the other way around: that I give up a concert to be with someone and then they cancel my appointment. But yes, I recognize that with my type of life it is difficult to maintain relationships ”.

His type of life is summarized with some data. For 35 years it has offered 250 concerts a year. It will not be easy to find another player with similar numbers. He calculates that in the last three decades he has not slept 20 days in a row in the same place. “My average is about five days a month at home,” he says. It is clear that with this life things are sacrificed.

Jorge Pardo killing time in a hotel, in transit to another concert. It's an image from 'Trance'.
Jorge Pardo killing time in a hotel, in transit to another concert. It’s an image from ‘Trance’.

What it narrates Trance it is the non-negotiable commitment of a man to his art, the search for the essence, the moment in which the soul merges with creation and becomes indivisible. The documentary does not work like the story of a musician, on the other hand with a career worthy of praise. Trance, that takes place to the rhythm of a road movie, forms art within art. For two years, the director Emilio Belmonte (Almería, 47 years old) accompanied the flutist and saxophonist around the world to portray both the material and the intangible: loneliness, generosity, compadreo, economic hardship, commitment, humility , honesty. They are all concepts associated with Pardo. Among the virtues of Trance there is the claim of a musician addicted to the stage, unable to fit into an industry engulfed by “so much you sell so much worth.” He could have featured in more photos, sold more, charged double … But that would have put his creative freedom at risk. The film shows its tremendous international projection, perhaps not sufficiently recognized in Spain.

There is a time when Trance as hard as sincere. When his son Miguel, 34 years old, blamed him for feeling displaced by him “because he was not a musician” and what the long absences from home due to the tours affected him. Everything happens in a strange environment, a swimming pool. A conversation with unfinished phrases that only the complicity of a father and son can decipher. “I was excited to see that sequence. I love that my son throws things in my face. Because I like that there is a search for oneself, and if that leads to a confrontation with his father, nothing happens. It is part of that search ”, said Pardo sitting in a Madrid cafeteria, last week.

Where they arise "the real things, with the compadreo and the emotion of the pagan festivals ”. Pardo at one point in the documentary.
Where “real things emerge, with the compadreo and the emotion of pagan festivals.” Pardo at one point in the documentary.

He has a well-traveled Madrid accent and has brought a flute, something he does like the one he keeps his wallet with identification documents in his pocket before leaving home. This wind instrument, like the saxophone, is the one with which he has cemented his legend: the Dolores group, the historic sextet of Paco de Lucia, the twinning with the piano of Chick Corea, The legend of time Shrimp, his solo albums, his trio with Tino di Geraldo and Carles Benavent… Pardo goes on and on and is not afraid of anything. In addition to flamenco and jazz, he has immersed himself in tropical music, Indian, rock, African, electronic … Any experiment is good if it ends in a trance.

He comes from a lower-middle-class family from Madrid, “reds without militancy”. They lived in Sales. The father prepared the payroll for a large company and then made an extra with his great passion, photography; his mother took care of him and his brother, Jesús, also a musician. Both the father and mother (now deceased) had musical sensibilities. Tchaikovsky, Glenn Miller, Pepe Pinto, Woody Herman, Mozart, Beethoven, Manuel Marchena, zarzuela were listened to at his house … That is where his hobby began.

With Chick Corea, who appears in the documentary a few months before passing away.
With Chick Corea, who appears in the documentary a few months before passing away.

“I came to the flute out of a survival instinct. He was about 12 years old. All the kids stayed in Manuel Becerra’s park [cerca de Ventas] and there were already some who played the guitar very well. I was the youngest and most tender. As with the guitar I did not have much space, I began to see the possibility of playing another instrument. I can’t this way, because I’m going there. I passed a store and saw a recorder. It cost me 25 pesetas. And I was passionate about that world of the wind. I was working all summer as a salesperson selling hand cream, tar, soap … With what I got I bought a transverse flute ”, he explains.

Trance shows an artist skeptical of the music industry, a guy who mistrusts the culture that is created in the offices. “The real things arise from the compadreo and the emotion of the pagan festivals,” he points out. And he adds: “I have a character hippy. That marked me. Experimentation with drugs, emotions, music. But I don’t like the concept hippismo. That they tell you what to do and what not to do. Do you worship Shiva and have you never been to the Dew? Well, go to Rocío and you will see. Exchange one temple for another and you will get rich. There is a lot of nonsense in it hippismo. I have a passion for people who have awakened consciences, like Jesus Christ or Muhammad. But I deny the Ismo. Christ, phenomenon, but not Christianity. Hippies, phenomenon; hippismo, la jodemos ”.

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A moment of the documentary in which Pardo is with the guitarist Niño Josele in Almería and explains what “trance” means. On video, the trailer for the film.

He takes up the personal theme determined by his nomadic life: “One thing is love, emotion, desire, attraction, the magnetism that exists between two people, and another is the social question of living together, forming a family and everyone the patches you have to make in your personal life to achieve that. And that’s another story. For me they are different stories, and both are exciting ”. Pardo was married for 25 years and has two children, Miguel (35) and Cora (33), who have given him two grandchildren.

Recently, at 64, he affirms that “he has finally become independent.” It has been installed in an apartment in San Roque (Cádiz), alone. Actually, Pardo plays with words, because he has been independent since he was 25 years old and began to play: the hotels and the houses of his partners have been his abodes.

Dancing with children in the Sevillian neighborhood of Las Tres Mil Viviendas.
Dancing with children in the Sevillian neighborhood of Las Tres Mil Viviendas.

In many sections of Trance It appears alone, in five-star hotels or in hostels. He plays with equal passion in New York’s Carnegie Hall before 3,000 spectators as in a beach bar for 70 people, where he charges 50 euros. He says that due to age he sees “the end of the matter” closer, but he points to what he read in a Mafalda cartoon: “A character says: ‘In the end we are all going to die.’ And another answers: ‘Yes, but not today ”. He hopes to always continue playing, sharing one more night the vital experience of the live performance. The trance.