Albert Marques

October 17, 2017



As a child I can remember weekends or events listening to my family perform. I also remember being awakened by these old flamenco albums my Dad would crank up early morning on weekends. I would think to myself how could anyone listen to this stuff. I liked the guitar but couldn’t stand the singing. My father would laugh and tell me that one day I would learn to like flamenco singing. I thought he was crazy but in the end Dad was right. Not only do I like flamenco singing but it is my favorite part of flamenco. Don’t get me wrong, I love dance and solo. It’s just the singing really moves me.

My grandfather, who was born outside Granada in a little town called Pinos Puentes, passed the guitar down to his two sons who in turn passed it down to me. My father played professionally in the fifties doing studio work with Fantasy records and live performances.

At the age of seven, I received my first guitar. I played on and off until I was about twelve when I decided to play seriously. At the age of twelve, I began practicing four hours a day. My first guitar teacher was my Dad who showed me how to play various styles of music including flamenco, blues and a little rock. After about a year, I studied for two years with former guitarist for Johny lee Hooker, John Garcia.

From age 12 to 18 I played in many rock bands performing at parties, weddings and high schools. At age 18, I became a very serious musician and soon after started a modern jazz band for about three years. Also at 18, I came to Gavilan and studied music theory, music history, classical guitar and music ensemble. At 18, I also started guitar lessons with legendary Spanish guitarist Mariano Cordoba. Mariano is a master flamenco guitarist internationally known and mainly responsible for bringing flamenco to the bay area. During this time from 18 to 21, I played a lot of rock and flamenco. I also had a chance to do some studio work. I recorded some commercials and did some session work for local bands. I also concertized quite a bit performing at the Flamenco Society, Classical guitar society, Music teacher association of California and many private events. After studying with Mariano, I briefly studied with well-known guitarist Guillermo Rios before moving to Spain in 1988.

At age 21 I moved abroad to study in Spain with the great masters of today. While in Spain, I practiced on average 8 to 12 hours a day. I got the opportunity to study with the guitarist Chicuelo who is considered to be one of the top young flamenco guitarists in Spain. Chicuelo wowed me with his technique. When I first started taking lessons with him I would try to impress him with classical music. Every song I played, he played. The next week I would challenge him to improvise over changes thinking flamenco guitar players didn’t know how to improvise. I was wrong again. Finally I admitted defeat and learned as much as I could from him. Still to this day when I see him, we jam and he gives me great advice. The one thing I never understood until later is why he wouldn’t let the fingers fly on his recordings. I thought to myself that if this guy had all these chops in the world, why not show them and his response was simple, He wanted to make music and not play notes. One day he said something that has always stuck with me: “Hay gente que habla mucho pero no dice nada”. Later, I found that to be so true especially with flamencos outside of Spain. There are guitarists that simply overplay. The music is so busy that it is boring. “They talk a lot and say nothing.”

During my time in Spain I went to Madrid to study with the late Rafael Nogales. Rafael was the instructor of Mariano Cordoba and was considered to be one of the last great masters of the traditional school of flamenco.While in Spain, I performed at some small events and one show which has been one of my fondest memories. It was a concert with my instructor Mariano Cordoba in Guadalajara, Spain. An event I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Upon returning from Spain, I continued with yet another master flamenco guitarist, Juan Serrano. Juan taught at CSU Fresno. While At CSU Fresno, Juan and I would jam for hours. In 1991 I competed for the first time in the Fresno guitar Society competition and won first prize. Months later I entered the Central Valley Charlie Daniel guitar competition. I took second place.

Following these competitions I was invited to perform throughout the United States. I performed at the Northern California Flamenco Society, the Pena Cultural Center in Berkeley, as a featured guitarist in the Fresno guitar panorama series and did some live radio performances. In addition to performing solo, I had a Flamenco Jazz fusion band, and I also accompanied some dance classes of local teachers.

Koko de la Isla studied a variety of dance forms including ballet, baroque dance, modern dance, jazz and tap. She received a B.A. in dance and continued on to the graduate study in dance choreography at the University of California, Irvine, where she found flamenco as her lifework. Since then, Koko has performed as a soloist throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and in Japan, where Flamenco is most appreciated besides Spain. Koko has also taught flamenco to a large number of culturally diverse students and has conducted flamenco performances at colleges and community organizations since 1999.

Koko de la Isla


Daniel Azcarate

Daniel Azcarate is  America’s premier emerging flamencosinger and currently works as a professional singer in Sevilla, Spain, throughout North America,  Canada, and Japan. Azcarate started studying flamenco guitar at the age of 19, and took up flamenco singing (cante) while visiting Sevilla two years later, where he realized that singing was his true passion. Back in the U.S., Azcarate studied with renowned singers like Jesus Montoya, Vicente Griego, and Cristo Cortes.  Soon he was in-demand at the local tablaos in his hometown of Seattle, both as a singer and guitarist. In 2013, Azcarate returned to Seville to study flamenco singing fulltime at the famed flamenco school Fundacíon Cristina Heeren. Since then, he has become a regular voice in the Sevilla flamenco scene, regularly appearing at well-known tablaos like Caja Negra, Sala Garufa, Bar puerta Sol  and La Flamenqueria, as well as at the Feria de Abril in Sevilla. He also continues to be an in-demand Singer internationally and has toured with dancer Melinda Hedgecorth’s “Flamenco Mio” U.S. tour, Canada’s Fin de Fiesta Flamenco tour  and Yume Terai’s  Sueño Flamenco tour in Japan.  Azcarate currently divides his time between Seville and Seattle, and recently recorded his debut CD, Mi Camino Flamenco.