Santa Fe Performance Exchange
Bringing local and national musicians to Santa Fe venues

Friday, Dec. 19, 2014, 7:30 pm Chuscales – Gypsy Passion with special guests Valeria Montes and Juan Siddi (Friday) Admission: $30

“Chuscales.” This was the name given to Jose Valle Fajardo by his Grandfather. Since then, the name Chusco has come to describe a guitarist of consummate skill and a profound understanding of the Flamenco traditions. A native of Antequera, Spain, Chuscales grew up in a traditional gypsy family well known for its professional musicians and dancers. His grandmother was among those who lived in the caves of Sacromonte, one of the legendary cradles of flamenco. Chuscales recalls, “There were shows, with Gypsies from Granada who grew up in families that lived there. I wish you could see it, the families in the caves and the singing and dancing. There might be seven, eight, maybe nine caves, all with singing and dancing, and there would be more singing and dancing on the streets every day. It was unbelievable. It was very formative time in all my life. It was like a dream. This is where I learned everything  the rhythm, the beat, the guitar. I am still learning from those thousands of nights performing with my family, with my father, my grandfather, and my friends.”

Chusco began guitar lessons at age six under the instruction of his uncle Joaquín Fajardo as well as Maestro Agustinillo, two prominent masters in the region where such greats as  Segovia have studied. As a teenager, Chuscales found himself frequently in the company of Paco de Lucía, who often performed in the area and would take time to play with the talented youngster and to answer his questions. Meanwhile, he began his performing career as a dancer  an experience that provides him with a detailed understanding of flamenco’s rhythmic nuances. Chusco elaborates as the accompanying guitarist, “I can understand and follow dancers. I can see where they are going before they take their next step. I know what the dancer is looking for, how much tension is in the music, the right rhythm, when to play strong or soft so if a dancer asks me for something, I know what they ask.” Chuscales’ affinity for dance is delightfully apparent in his artistry, blending music and movement as he does is no accident. “It’s something we learn through life,” he says. “A lot of people don’t have my luck to grow up in the caves, learning flamenco in a Gypsy family where the music comes from tradition to tradition, from legend to legend. I thank God; I have been around such great musicians all my life.

Chuscales has played the guitar for prince and princes of Spain at Santa Fe in 2009 and he has appeared in the films “Camelamos Nauerar” (1976), “Gypsy Heart” (1998), “Flamenco Passion & Soul” (1999), “Viaje Al Duende” (2009),”The Spanish Table” (2010) and “El Payo” (2010).

Mina Valle Fajardo
“Mina” has received extensive training in flamenco, Escuela bolero, jazz, Tap and ballet. She received flamenco training in Spain from El Guito, Carmera Greco, Ciro, La Tati, La China, Alejandro Granados, Yolanda Heredia, Eva La Yerbabuena, Andres Marin, Joaquin Ruiz and Keiko Issiki and she has taught in the Maria Benitez Institute for Spanish Arts, Eva Encinias Sandoval’s National Institute of Flamenco and for the Spanish Institute of Dance in Houston, Texas, and Fazil Dance Studio in New York City.  Mina has performed in Japan, New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Denver, Houston, Maryland and Albuquerque and has made several appearances on television in Manhattan, New Mexico and Japan. In Santa Fe, She has performed at the Santa Fe Opera and in the Santa Fe Jazz and International Music Festival at the Lensic Theatre with many artists including Elena Andujar, El Pripi, La Tibu, Carmen Rasarao, Chuscales, YiYi, Silverio Heredia, Tequila de Jerez, Omayra Amaya, Juan Siddi and Keiko Isshiki.

With Chuscales she has performed in many productions including “Chuscales at Old Main, Boulder”(2011), “Chuscales y Mina Fajardo con Las Tres Mujeres” (2010), “Chuscales Live at MIT” (Boston, 2009), Telluride Jazz Festival (2008), “Soul del Arte Tradiciones e Innovaciones”(San Francisco, 2005), “Ainadamar, Landscapes and Impression” Santa Fe Opera (2005), “A Night of Flamenco Magic” Lakewood Cultural Center (Denver, CO, 2005), “Santa Fe Jazz and International Music Festival” (2004 & 2001), The John E. Morlow Guitar Series ” Flamenco Night” (Chevy Chase, MD, 2004), SJC Multicultural Arts Series “Flamenco” (San Juan Capistrano, CA, 2003). She appeared in the films “Flamenco Passion & Soul” (1999), “El Payo” (2010).  She currently performs with Chuscales at Local Tablao in Santa Fe.

Valeria Montes “La Chispa”, Dancer/choreographer  
2010 Kresge Fellowship winner.
Montes has been described as “mesmerizing” by the Detroit free press and “beauty in motion” by the Metro times. She is known as La Chispa (the Spark) for her passionate and vibrant interpretation of Cante Flamenco (flamenco song) and for her complex rhythmic zapateado.  Montes began her dance studies at the age of five in her native Mexico studying Ballet, Baile folklorico, gymnastics, and at age 20 she moved to Michigan, USA where she started dancing Spanish classical dance with local instructor, Maria Del Carmen Montes.  Eventually moving to Spain to get immersed in the world of flamenco; she was very fortunate to study with legendary families and artists of flamenco: Farruco family, Carmen Ledesma, Concha Vargas and Miguel Vargas. She has also studied Cante Flamenco with Esperanza Fernandez, which she feels is vital for dancers to do to understand the art form in a more profound way.

Kina Medez, Singer
Kina Mendez was born into the Mendez clan of Gypsy artists of Jerez de la Frontera. Steeped in the flamenco tradition, she began singing under the influence of her aunt, legendary singer La Paquera de Jerez.

Her professional career began in the famous Tablao of Seville “Los Gallos” when she joined Manuel Morao’s company which led her to work with Mario Maya and tour internationally with Salvador Tavora’s productions ‘Carmen’ and ‘Carmina Burana’. Performing in festivals such as ‘La Fiesta de la Buleria’ and ‘La Fiesta de la Vendimia’ in Jerez de la Frontera, she has shared the stage with many renown flamenco artists including Manuel Agujetas, El Grilo and La Macanita. Her debut recording “De Sevilla a Jerez” was released in 2009. Kina was a featured artist at the prestigious XIV Festival de Jerez in 2010 in “Los Conciertos de Palacio”. 

Kina was a featured performer in ‘Zahara Flamenco Al Andaluz’ at The Cowell Theater in San Francisco in 2010 and was also a featured artist at Festival Semana Flamenka in Los Angeles at the Irvine Barclay Theater in 2011 for “Caminos Flamencos”. Kina was a featured performer in the ‘Homenaje a los Flamencos de la Bodega’ (Spagetti Factory) and has contributed diverse collaborations for “Theatre Flamenco” (45 Años de Arte Flamenco) and for the prestigious dancer “La Tania” (Despertar es un Color) 2012. Under the collaboration of the bay area’s “Festival Gitano” Kina performed with Diego del Morao en the Brava Theater in San Francisco in 2011. And in 2012 collaborated with great dancer Concha Vargas and genius guitarist Juan del Gastor.

One of Kina’s great accomplishments was to pay tribute to her aunt “la Paquera de Jerez” in a historic concert by uniting many bay area guitarists and other artists in her unique vision of flamenco.

Additional performers include Janira Cordova, Alejandro Pais, Alejandro Valle, Nicholas Cordova and Navidades Flamencas.