Album Review of
Tres golpes (feat. Raül Refree)

Written by Joe Ross
August 13, 2022 - 10:34pm EDT
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Flamenco singer Tomás de Perrate hails from Utrera (a town of gypsy and refugee origin in the Sevilla province). Flamenco’s roots evolved in southern Spain when gypsies from other countries arrived in the 15th century. The music then fused with elements of Arab and Jewish music in the Andalucian Mountains, where Jews, Muslims and “pagan” gypsies had taken refuge from forced conversions by the Catholic Church and kings.  Religious chants may have become known as “flamenco,” or the word may be derived from a mispronunciation of Arabic words for “fugitive” and “peasant.” Regardless of its origin, Perrate developed his art by learning from his family elders. Over two decades ago, he recorded his first “cante” (flamenco song) with family members on Christmas in Utrera. Appearing at festivals, concerts, recitals, workshops and conferences, he has also received several awards for his efforts. Previous releases, accompanied by guitars, bass, drums, hand claps and sometimes dance, have included Utrera Flamenca ( 2003), Perraterias (2005) and Infundio (2011).

On Tres Golpes (Three Strokes), Perrate collaborates with producer/organist Raül Refree who may be best known for his work with pop sensation Rosalía. Although many of the tracks on Tres Golpes are based on songs from the 16th and 17th centuries, they are presented with a more contemporary setting and aesthetic that may give pause to a flamenco purist. I suspect that the powerful messages of the music haven’t changed too much since older times, and Perrate sings about preserving social status, self-esteem, love and happiness despite the vulnerability of a painful or precarious life full of trial and tribulation.

The call-and-response of the title cut is sung a cappella with only jaleo consisting of hands clapping (palmas), fingers snapping (palillos) and shouts of encouragement from the accompanying audience. While a cut like “Yo Soy la Locura” has the vocalist accompanied by a unique quartet of piano, bass, sax and percussion, there are certainly several tracks that also emphasize the beauty of spontaneous guitar accompaniment and interludes by Alfredo Lagos, Paco de Amparo and Raül Refree. Tracks like “Si algun dia,” “Solea sola,” “Melisenda insomne,” “No hay que decir el primor” and “Arde lla casa de Cupido”may best show how the cantaor (creative singer) works with the guitarists to create moods, feelings and other intentions. Tracks like “Noche obscura” and “Las fonemas (Karawane)” fall more into the category of “Avant European Music” that somewhat defies borders and constraints of the flamenco genre. Their innovative and imaginative approach provides an eclectic mix of music from flamenco roots. Whichever track tickles your fancy, you’ll agree that Perrate’s vocal prowess and virtuosity are defined by its power, depth, emotion, expression and intensity. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)