Juan Carmona 

Guitarist Juan Carmona was born and raised in Lyon, France, but his roots are in Spain, and he has a deep affinity for Spanish flamenco in its purest form. He began playing guitar at ten and later moved to Paris, where he studied and eventually taught flamenco at the National Conservatory of Music. But in the mid-80s he decided that he could only fully master the style by going to its source, so he moved to the flamenco center of Jerez, where he spent nearly a decade studying and performing with some of the music's greatest talents before returning to Paris. His own take on the genre makes room for all sorts of pan-stylistic experiments; he's explored the links between flamenco and North African music and collaborated with jazz guitarists, Indian and Iranian classical musicians, and the great Uzbek singer Matlubeh. But as his current group proves, he's at his best playing straight-up flamenco, driving the songs with a fiery style that's rhythmically ferocious and melodically tart. He performed solo when he made his Chicago debut in 2000, but this time around he's bringing a sextet featuring singer Justo Eleria, a second guitarist, a dancer, and musicians on bass, drums, and violin. This show kicks off the Flamenco 2006 festival; El Payo opens. See also Thursday. Wed 1/25, 8:30 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000, $5 suggested donation. All ages.

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