Until the late eighteenth and nineteenth century, Flamenco dance, music and song was widely considered to belong to the Gypsies, whose customs, beliefs and way of life were disdained and even hated by Spanish society. During and for centuries after the famous expulsion of the Moors and Jews in 1492, the Gypsies were tortured, persecuted and even killed if they would not conform to the accepted standard of Spanish society. Nomadic by nature, many of the Gypsies never settled in one town for very long; they would stay in one location only as long as they were able to make money doing odd jobs, selling their wares, and many of them performing Flamenco for the curious Spaniards. Whole families would be involved, singing, dancing and entertaining the eager locals.|
It is widely considered that many Gypsies (as well as Spaniards) were creating and developing the art of Flamenco during this time, blending popular Spanish songs and folklore, as well as gaining admirers for this "Gypsy" art. Ironically, it did not achieve mass popularity until non-Gypsies began to perform it; with their participation Flamenco achieved legitimacy as an art. It can also be said that Flamenco suddenly became commercial, with the obvious negative implications, as well as tremendously successful. When non-Gypsies began performing Flamenco in the cafes and theatres for the accepting public, its popularity soared and its development continued anew with the integration of the Andalucian personality and expression. Although the Gypsies did not achieve respect and honor for their contribution to the art form until many years later, they have always been considered among the best interpreters of the Flamenco arts. The art of Flamenco is an expression of life, a communication on the deepest and most profound level.
If it cannot be ranked among the great classical arts of the world, it is because the public has not been exposed to it in anything but a superficial level, based upon the stereotypical images constantly presented. Just as other arts evolve and change with the times, Flamenco in recent years has, for better or worse, incorporated sophisticated musical stylistic elements from other mediums. The purists will say that this change in the art has brought about the decline of Flamenco; others feel innovation and change brings renewed interest in an esoteric art. The truth is that Flamenco is an expressive art, an art of communication. The dialogue between a singer and guitarist, a dancer and a singer, a dancer and a guitarist or all three, and yes, even when there is a crowd onstage, is a highly evolved interaction when the artists are highly skilled, knowledgeable and show integrity for the art. Some of the most sophisticated interplay between musicians in the world happens when flamencos are interacting, improvising and generally burning a hole in each other's consciousness. This is the greatest thing that can happen in Flamenco. It is a spiritual communication. This communication can happen anywhere: in a rehearsal hall, a theatre performance, or a room full of noisy people. Individual and personal, this art takes the shape of the artist interpreting it quite a burden to carry! But the beauty of it is that the artist has the great opportunity to enter in and create. Forgetting their technique, effects and performing tricks, they can create in a few moments a small work of art, which is an expression of themselves, and give it away.
"I am Jesus Montoya, a gypsy flamenco singer, born and raised in Spain and now living in America. I feel very fortunate and very proud to have worked and recorded with such a talented flamenco guitarist as Jason McGuire. When he plays I feel as though I am back in Spain performing with my family and friends. His playing is so strong and powerful it is like three guitars playing at once.|
I don?t look at Jason like an American because to me he plays like a true gypsy with compas, pelliscos, velocity and passion. In fact, I gave him the nickname ?El Rubio? but in reality I would call him the White Gypsy. I tip my hat to you, Jason, with all my respect and I thank you for bringing the quality of flamenco in America to a new and more professional level.
For me, Jason is one of the top flamenco guitarists today."
"Jason is one of America's top flamenco guitarists. I had the pleasure of touring with him, he's an incredible flamenco."
- Ricardo Anglada
"Jason has been a wonderful inspiration and encouragement to me. It was a real pleasure to take lessons with him. I highly recommend him as a Flamenco guitar instructor."
- Tomas Michaud
"As a teacher, Jason McGuire has a deep understanding of Flamenco music both from the intellect and from the "guts". To people not born to Flamenco, he is able to dissect with extraordinary clarity the inextricable complexity of flamenco music and rythm. This rare quality makes him an unvalable teacher.
His musical composition reflects the rythmic and melodic puzzles of Flamenco music. Add to this the technique of a virtuoso rendered with cristalline quality and you have a true maestro."
- Laurence Beasley