Jose Maria Bandera is performing with Paqueando at the MoonJune Festival Toledo on September 30, 2023.
(Courtesy of World Music Central)
Hailing from the vibrant southern city of Algeciras, Cádiz (Spain), José María Bandera Sánchez, an exceptional guitarist, has cemented his place as a flamenco guitar virtuoso. Born in 1960 into a lineage of flamenco artists, he began his musical journey at a tender age of ten, guided by the expert hands of his grandfather, Antonio Sánchez. From those early beginnings, Bandera’s talent blossomed, and he quickly found himself collaborating with revered flamenco luminaries in his beloved homeland.
In 1985, the magnetic pull of Madrid’s thriving flamenco scene compelled Bandera to settle there, seeking a deeper connection with the pulsating heart of flamenco. It was during this transformative period that he graced the legendary stage of the Tablao “Los Canasteros,” sharing the limelight with luminaries such as José Soto “Sorderita,” the bewitching La Macanita, La Tolea, and Juan Ramírez, among a constellation of other stellar performers.
His remarkable talent caught the attention of the prestigious National Ballet of Spain (B.N.E.). For thirteen years, Bandera dazzled audiences with his exceptional artistry, delivering breathtaking performances of classical works intertwined with his innovative collaborations with guitar giants such as Manolo Sanlúcar, Isidro Muñoz, and Vicente Amigo. His artistic genius didn’t stop at performing; he fearlessly ventured into the realm of composition, bestowing upon the B.N.E. awe-inspiring musical pieces like “A Ritmo y a Compás,” an enchanting dance opus choreographed by Currillo, and “Grito,” a soul-stirring creation for the mesmerizing Antonio Canales. These compositions remain an indelible cornerstone of the company’s repertoire, resonating with the audience’s hearts and igniting their souls.
During his illustrious tenure, Bandera had the privilege of sharing the stage with Lola Greco, Merche Esmeralda, Antonio Canales, José Antonio, Joaquín Cortes, Javier Latorre, and Eva “Yerbabuena.” In 1989, the legendary Paco de Lucía recognized Bandera’s prodigious talent, inviting him to participate in the groundbreaking show “Solo, Dúo, Trío,” a symphony of three guitars. Joined by Paco and Juan Manuel Cañizares, they embarked on a transcendent musical odyssey, traversing the globe, igniting the hearts of audiences in over two hundred spellbinding concerts over three transformative years. Amidst this whirlwind, Bandera’s creative spirit continued to flow, as he composed intricate melodies for the National Ballet, further entwining his artistic vision with the tapestry of flamenco’s storied legacy.
Bandera’s collaborative spirit led him to participate in the prestigious VII Jazz Festival of the Provincial Council, where he mesmerized audiences with a sublime guitar duo, expertly harmonizing with the acclaimed guitarist Tito Alcedo. Their virtuosic performance enveloped the audience, transporting them to ethereal realms where jazz and flamenco fused in harmonious bliss. In 1996, Bandera embarked on a tour with Carmen Linares, captivating audiences with the evocative show “La Parrala,” accompanied by Juan Carlos Romero. The synergy between their musical prowess and Linares’ mesmerizing vocals was nothing short of a divine revelation, captivating audiences worldwide.
From 1999 until 2001, Bandera became an indispensable member of the Paco de Lucía Septet, a musical ensemble that had already welcomed his prodigious talent for several years. In 2002, Bandera composed the music for the groundbreaking show “Contrabandistas” by choreographer David Morales. Premiering at the Bienal de Sevilla, this creation intertwined the raw emotions of flamenco with Morales’ innovative choreography. The same year, he graced the Biennial stage once again, interpreting and premiering Manolo Sanlúcar’s work “Mariana Pineda,” with choreography by acclaimed dancer Sara Baras.
Bandera became the musical director of Baras’ famed company, a role he fulfilled until 2010. During this unforgettable era, he composed and performed music for an array of shows, including “Sabores,” “Carmen,” “Esencia,” and the groundbreaking fusion show “Baras-Carreras,” a marriage of music, opera, and flamenco, featuring the legendary José Carreras alongside Sara Baras.
In 2010, Bandera joined forces with the brilliant progressive rock and jazz guitarist Tito Alcedo, birthing the show “A Horse between Jazz and Flamenco.” And recently he is recording and touring with Diego Amador was duo Paqueando, tributing his uncle Paco De Lucia.