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Marcelo Sousa, beyond orthodoxy

The veteran cantaor revisited his Peña Jumoza 3, where he gave an authentic lesson in cante jondo.

There is a peña in Seville that often flies under the radar of the wider public: the Tertulia Flamenca Jumoza 3, in the Parque Alcosa neighborhood. What kind of name is that? “Well, I’ll tell you the story: in Marchena there was a tertulia [cultural club] that was called jumoza [smokey] because of a chimney it had, which smoked everywhere except by the top… That’s where it took its name from, as most of the founders of this peña were from Marchena.”

Among cabales, the authentic gourmets of cante jondo, talking about Marcelo Sousa (born in Guillena, Seville province, in 1949) is talking about the very best. Just short of his 70th birthday, after a career spanning several decades, he’s able to sing for two hours without missing a beat. He’s what we call orthodox: faithful to traditional cante, deep and largo, that is, well versed and skilled in all flamenco palos. He’s a mairenista: a disciple of Antonio Mairena (ay!), at a time when such thing is frowned upon. “Who? I’ve never heard of him…”

It’s a pity he’s not well-known. When was the last time we heard palos such as rosas, arboreás, mirabrás, the cantiñas of Luisa Butrón, of Sanlúcar, of Los Puertos; or a tirana, or the jotilla of Perico el Guitarrito immortalized by the great Niña de los Peines:


Dile si la ves pasar,
dile, pero muy bajito,
dile que estoy medio loco,
loco, loquito perdío.


Marcelo says: “You can ask me whatever you want, except money. I’ve come with this kid, José Luis Scott (b. Seville, 1972) who plays the guitar amazingly, and whom I love like a son”. Luis plays the guitar wonderfully indeed, he has the traditional toque of the Seville school, a splendid rhythm and makes sounds with his guitar that leaves us dumbfounded.

Superb tientos, lots of tangos trianeros de compás. Everything happens naturally, and yet we’re all amazed. Now a guajira, with Marcelo making good use of his voice and his volume control, his chest being like a volcano from which gets a pellizco whenever he has to. When he sings the mariana finished off by his Tangos a Sevilla, we’ve already run out of oles. Hard to believe that this man still has to make a living singing in contests of cante.

After the snacks, the best is still to come. “Are you kidding me, doesn’t this man ever get tired?” It’s time for the soleares, so good, all with his own lyrics perfectly adapted to the styles of Alcalá and Triana. Marcelo has a natural voice, strong like a torrent, which for this palo is kind of excessive. Yet, it’s perfectly suitable for seguiriyas, and he sings like El Nitri and Antonio Mairena in one sitting. What a heck of a voice you have, master! In between, some exquisite tremolos por malagueñas bring us peace once again, as if we were enjoying a walk in Lucena in the company of El Niño de Cabra and Dolores de la Huerta. Regarding the fin de fiesta and the potatoes with cuttlefish, I’ll tell you another day.


Event notes:

Show: Marcelo Sousa recital
Place and date: Tertulia Flamenca Jumoza 3, Seville. January 26, 2019
Cante: Marcelo Sousa
Guitarra: José Luis Scott

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Filólogo madrileño. Media vida en Sevilla. Centinela de las palabras. Lo jondo le acelera peligrosamente el corazón.