A Flamenco fiesta

In October, The Record Album will be showcasing a selection of flamenco recordings from the personal vinyl collection of guitarist Brian Bailey, known also by his stage name of Paco Torres, who died last year.

Brian was a talented musician who played both the piano and classical guitar. It was the brilliance of his guitar playing that led him to the heart of the flamenco community in London, where he became a member of The Trio Andaluz, a flamenco dance group who performed at the Casa Pepe and the Troubadour club in Soho. He performed with his wife, Shirley, whose stage name was ‘Chiquita Morena’.

With this successful group Brian became a full time professional guitarist touring extensively throughout the UK and internationally, performing on television and recording previously unheard flamenco palos. Brian was inspired by the playing style of the great Paco Pena, from whom he learned directly in Spain, and the records in his collection reflect the key authentic flamenco influences on him.

Among the renowned performers in Brian’s collection are Sabicas, Paco Pena, Juan Martin, Nina de los Peines, Carlos Montoya, Carmen Amaya, Philip John Lee, Luis Maravilla, Los Macarenos, the Romero family and Ketama. There is also a lovely three-set anthology of cante flamenco.

According to a tribute this year by the Calaita Flamenco Son group, Brian – who also enjoyed a career in teaching in schools across England and as a businessman while performing – attended a guitar master class in Cordoba in 1986 organised by Paco Pena. There he met Jean, a dancer and actress who had decided to learn flamenco, and moved to Cheshire where they began teaching flamenco, “establishing schools in Chester, Gatley, Romiley and the Lake District. Jean developed the school’s lyrical and attractive choreography, while Brian demanded clear accurate footwork which reflected his precise and knowledgeable playing. They performed regularly as ‘Candela’ (Jean’s stage name).

“Pupils were often invited to perform alongside them (when they achieved the required level of proficiency) and Jean and Brian organised several shows each year to encourage pupils to lose their reserve and express their love of flamenco. It’s not an exaggeration to suggest that hundreds of women (and some men) throughout the North West owe their interest in and love of flamenco to Jean and Brian’s patient teaching. They also regularly visited schools and youth clubs, to teach a younger audience about the beautiful, strange flamenco culture.”

Brian was forced to retire in the early 1990s, when he developed arthritis in his fingers and could no longer perform to his own high standards. He passed away in the summer of 2018 due to cancer.

“Brian Bailey, Paco Torres, was a man of exceptional charm, enthusiasm and knowledge. His contribution to the Flamenco communities of London and the Northwest cannot be overstated and will not be forgotten,” wrote Calaita Flamenco Son.

Brian Bailey’s collection has been offered to The Record Album by his son, Adam, who lives locally, and we are delighted to present them for sale in the shop. All the records are in excellent condition.