With his flaring arpeggios and rapid-fire repetitions of single notes, Paco de Lucia must get more notes out of every measure than any other flamenco guitarist. Or so it seemed when he and his sextet played Tuesday at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in a concert sponsored jointly by the Center and the Philharmonic Society.
De Lucia appeared with guitarist Ramon de Algeciras and singer Pepe de Lucia (his elder and younger brother, respectively); guitarist Juan Manuel Canizares; flutist and saxophonist Jorge Pardo; percussionist Rubem Dantas, and dancer Joaquin Grilo. (An eighth person, electric bass and mandolina player Carlos Benavent, was listed in the program, but nary sight nor sound of him was apparent on this occasion.)
The program, which went undetailed in the booklet provided to the audience, unfolded in two long segments under moody spot, floor and side lighting, smoke-machine effects, loud amplification and canny staging.
De Lucia, 47, appeared first, playing a virtuoso solo under a simple overhead spot. After he finished, other members of the sextet slowly joined him, and as they played together, the musical idioms and influences widened to incorporate jazz and pop.
De Lucia remained the central focus, but over time, the two-hour concert turned into a kind of cross-cultural jam session, with the musicians taking turns spinning out in improvisatory solos or duos.
Brother Pepe sang with a worn, expressive but dryish tenor. Grilo doubled as an extra percussionist, playing what looked like a box held between his legs. He danced only a very brief segment at the end of the first half, but came back with some truly arresting solos toward the end of the program: exhibiting steely heel-work; pliant arms unfolding in freer, secondary rhythms, and finishing flourishes with multiple, unwavering spins.
* Paco de Lucia and Sextet perform Sunday at 8 p.m. at the Veterans Wadsworth Theater in Westwood as part of the Festival of World Music being held in conjunction with the annual Society of Ethnomusicology conference. Remaining events open to the public include: the Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Ensemble and the Bobby Bradford Jazz Ensemble at the John Anson Ford Amphitheater, tonight at 8; a mixed program by the Gerald Wilson Jazz Orchestra, the Cahuilla Birdsingers, the UCLA Afro-American Chorale Ensemble and the UC Santa Barbara Middle-Eastern Ensemble, Friday from 6 to 10 p.m. at the California Plaza Water Court, downtown (free admission); Music of Persia at the Japan America Theatre in Little Tokyo, at 8 p.m. Friday; Ali Jihad Racy and Ensemble, Kobla Ladzekpo Ghanaian Ensemble and the Steve Loza Sextet, Saturday at 8 p.m. in Schoenberg Hall Auditorium at UCLA. Information: (310) 206-3033.