The Cordoba Maria Jose Llergo was only a few months old when the Come to Madrid consecrated in 1995 to the Ketama. The Carmona brothers sang then, along with the English folk-jazz double bass of Danny Thompson and the musician of Mali Toumani Diabaté, to an electric city where every Tuesday was Friday, said the lyrics of what is one of the group’s greatest hits. . The young cantaora is one of the first to appear in the documentary Revealing Mario, by Mallorcan director Simó Andreu, produced by TVE and the Balearic channel IB3 and which is available on the Movistar + platform. Before the camera, Llergo talks about the figure of the audacious music producer Mario Pacheco (Madrid, 1950-2010), who died when she was a teenager. His words give a good account of the extensive, powerful, and often silent legacy of the man who created Nuevo Flamenco from a Madrid office near the Retiro park.
“When he looked like he was very payo, but then he was very gypsy”, Antonio Carmona recalls about a pale blond Pacheco. Without understanding physical, social or musical confines, this cosmopolitan man from Madrid, a lover of British sound avant-garde and traditional flamenco, began in the 1970s by mounting alternative concerts at his college, Pío XII, together with the filmmaker Ivan Zulueta. Both were approaching the capital unknown bands, coming from other corners of Spain. With that same spirit of openness, he founded the Nuevos Medios label two decades later together with his wife Cucha Salazar, after learning the keys to the recording industry by doing odd jobs. His personal project, envisioned by the artist Joan Miró as the designer of his logo, helped these young flamingos to flourish, including the truncated genius of the late Ray Heredia.
The Ketama, during a concert.
Pepe Habichuela was the one who premiered the small and revolutionary record company with his To Mandeli (1994), and he was the one who convinced Pacheco to also record a record for the Carmona family. Those were the times of “Flamenco Mondays” in the hitherto very rocker Revolver room at number 26 Galileo Galilei street, and the capital began to open its stages to other types of artists and to a sound globalization that later led to the successful label of world music. “Despite having spent a lot of time outside of Spain and having drunk from many external influences, when he returned to his country he decided to bet on something from here. As he himself said, he wanted people to stop associating flamenco with a gray country, ”says Simó, immersed for months in the universe of the music producer to complete this audiovisual biography. One of the reasons for being this film, he explains, is to make known to a wider audience the work “of someone other than a man who is loved and respected within the music industry who may not have received the recognition he deserves from cultural institutions ”.
Martirio, another of the artists protected by Pacheco’s eternal curiosity, sings a habitual lament before the director. If he had flourished in a foreign music industry, Pacheco would be a much more celebrated star, considers the singer with the opaque eyes and eternal comb. She was not the only one who took advantage of the visionary capacity of the Madrilenian. With Nuevos Medios, he proved that there was also diversity in flamenco sounds, supporting artists such as Miguel Poveda and Mayte Martín, and promoted bands from the eighties movement such as Golpes Bajos. There was also jazz, popular Cuban song, Argentine tango and sounds from Peru and Mexico in its catalog. And he edited in Spain Anglo-Saxon talents then unknown, including New Order, The Smiths or The Go Betweens. The artists that he decided to have by his side did not only receive promotion or financial support from him. “He was not a producer who imposed his personality on the musicians he worked with. From what some of them tell between the lines, it did influence and enrich them in some way, with subtle details, sharing their knowledge and bringing them closer to new references ”, points out Simó.
The singer Martirio, at one point in the documentary.
The label, which ceased its activity a few months after Pacheco’s death, has resurfaced in recent years thanks to the efforts of his daughter María, who also suggests the possibility of showing in public a part of the enormous photographic work left by her father and of which the documentary winks in its title. Thanks to her, the team of Revealing Mario had access to more than 26,000 negatives in his archive. A miniscule part of this legacy illustrates the film, which also addresses this facet of its protagonist. At least two of those images are iconic: that of the American Jimmy Hendrix taking the stage of the Isle of Wight Festival (United Kingdom) and the portrait of Camarón de la Isla, which served as the cover for his album The legend of time (1979).
Simó does find a connection between the way that Pacheco had of understanding music and photography, beyond the fact that the subject matter of his images was often carried out by the artists with whom he collaborated. “Also, at a conceptual level, you can find in his archive a certain type of images with a very concise language. He portrayed the character with a neutral background and little else, placing the truth of who was posing above all artifice and with the same subtlety with which he treated the musicians he produced ”, he concludes.
An image of Pacheco’s youth.