Het was de beroemde gitarist Paco de Lucía die Tomatito ontdekte en hem introduceerde bij de legendarische flamencozanger Camarón de la Isla. Hij werd jarenlang zijn vaste begeleider en speelde daarnaast ook samen met andere grootheden zoals Frank Sinatra, Elton John, John McLaughlin en Neneh Cherry.
Tomatito verbaast door zijn enorme beheersing van metriek en ritmiek. Hij ontwikkelde gaandeweg een eigen smaak en persoonlijke stijl, versmolten met zigeunerinvloeden waarin het hart van Andalusië duidelijk blijft kloppen.
Voor dit unieke concert in België krijgt hij het gezelschap van El Cristi (gitaar), José Maya (dans, palmas), Simon Roman (zang), Morenito De Illora (zang) en Lucky Losada (percussie).
José Fernández Torres "Tomatito" was born in Almería on August 20th 1958 into a family of flamenco guitarists. He grew up to the sounds of his guitarist father, also called Tomate, and his grandfather Miguel Tomate. He is also a nephew of the legendary guitarist Niño Miguel. At the age of twelve his family moved from Almería to Málaga, where he began his musical career performing in flamenco clubs such as the Taberna Gitana. There he had Paco de Lucía among his audience, and there he first met Camarón de la Isla.
Soon his performances in the principal flamenco festivals in Andalucía were capturing the attention of critics and aficionados , thanks to his unusual talent. From an early age he was making a name for himself as an accompanist for the very best singers, including Enrique Morente, La Susi, José Menese and Pansequito.
Without a doubt the most important role that Tomatito has played is that of accompanist for the late Camarón de la Isla during the last eighteen years of his life. Their combined discography is extensive, and their performances took them not just to all the festivals and flamenco recitals in Spain but also to the most important musical capitals of the world such as Montreux and New York.
Among his performances in his early years as soloist, some are particularly worthy of note: the competition El Giraldillo del Toque de la III Bienal de Arte Flamenco de la Ciudad de Sevilla (1984), various presentations during the Cumbre Flamenca festivals in the Teatro Alcalá Palace (1985), the V Festival de Jazz de Madrid (1986) and Veranos de la Villa del Ayuntamiento de Madrid (1991). He has maintained a close collaboration with the Peña Flamenca "El Taranto de Almería", where he has performed with an untold number of great flamenco singers and where in 1985 he was awarded the Taranto de Oro and the Lucas López prize in 1988.
After the demise of Camarón de la Isla came a short professional silence. Then Tomatito began a dazzling new career as concert guitarist, particularly after his performances in the first Festival Flamenco de Madrid and the IV Homenaje al Taranto in Madrid in 1993. Since then he has performed with his group to unanimous acclaim in the most hallowed venues of the Spanish music circuit: the Auditorio Nacional de Música in Madrid, Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona, Palacio de Congresos in Granada, Universidad Complutense, Festival de la Guitarra de Córdoba and countless others.
He has played at numerous flamenco festivals and musical events across Spain, either accompanying top singers or leading his own group in large venues, from bullrings to opera theatres. Overseas he has received rave reviews at the Istambul International Music Festival and the VI International Guitar Festival in Lyon and has toured extensively in Japan, Switzerland, Holland, South America, France and Germany. In Spain he has played to massive crowds with artists as revered as Frank Sinatra or Elton John during their respective tours in Spain.
After a plethora of recordings as accompanist for the likes of Camarón, Enrique Morente, Pansequito, Duquende, La Susi and Potito, his first solo album Rosas del Amor was released in 1987 to an eager audience. After four years of uninterrupted work he returned to the studio to record Barrio Negro (1991), a truly inspired album with collaborators including Camarón de la Isla.
During 1996 and 1997 Tomatito presented his most recent solo album Guitarra Gitana in venues including the Plaza de Cataluña and the Auditorio de Palma de Mallorca. Later he recorded Palabra de Guitarra Latina with Joan Bibiloni, Larry Coryell, Birelli Lagrene and six other legends of the Latin guitar. His playing gave a flamenco feel to Neneh Cherry's Spanish version of her number one hit Woman and to the film The Devil's Advocate (dir. Taylor Hackford), in which he shared a scene with Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves.
Upon his return to Spain he was awarded the Medalla de Plata de Andalucía. 1997 also saw the composition of his first work for the theatre in the form of the complete soundtrack for Antonio Onetti's Madre Caballo (based on Berthold Brecht's Mother Courage), produced by the Compañía Andaluza de Teatro and directed by Emilio Hernández. Onetti affirmed that he "always envisaged the play with this music" and the play's leading lady Terele Pávez stated that "...when you appear on stage that music takes your breath away. The whole cast is in awe of it...".
In the same year, Tomatito commenced his hugely successful collaboration with the pianist Michel Camilo. The reaction from press and public was such that the pair began to tour together, performing at the Barcelona Jazz Festival and later year in the "Palau de la Música" in Valencia, the "Gran Teatro" in Córdoba and the Sardinia Jazz Festival.
In 1998 he composed and recorded the soundtrack for the film Bin ich Schöen? for the famous German director Doris Doërrie, and has performed in the festival Esparrago Rock 98 in Granada, sharing the bill with musicians of every musical genre and every country under the sun. He embarked then on a European tour, which included dates at the Festival de Mont-de-Marsan (France), Tampere Flamenco Festival (Finland) and IX Nuits de la Guitare de Patrimonio (Corsica) where he shared the bill with the likes of Chick Corea, John McLaughlin and Irakere.
In September 1998, at the X Bienal de Arte Flamenco de Sevilla he directed and presented Tomate & Friends, one of the biggest successes of the month-long flamenco event. Throughout 1999 Tomatito continued his international tour with concerts in theatres and festivals in Poland, Japan, Cuba, Germany, Italy and France. His ongoing collaboration with Michel Camilo took him to Switzerland for the Basle Jazz Festival and to Japan for a month in the "Blue Note" jazz clubs in Tokyo and Osaka. By the summer of 2000, "Spain" was released on Lola Records distributed by Universal. As a result of its phenomenal success, the duo performed at Carnegie Hall during the JVC Jazz Festival and received a Grammy award for the best Latin-Jazz recording that year.
Tomatito also received a Grammy for his work with Camarón de la Isla on the live recording "París 1987" (Universal) and is thus the first flamenco Grammy-winner in history. After the presentation of his show "Bajandí" at the XI Bienal de Arte Flamenco in Seville, he performed in Rio de Janeiro, Nimes and Santo Domingo among other important events worldwide.
After winning a César prize as co-writer of the soundtrack of the movie "Vengo" (dir. Tony Gatlif) and being nominated for the Premio de la Música prize, Tomatito released "Paseo de los Castaños" (Universal Music/Polydor) on which he features a number with George Benson. The presentation concert tour was a sellout at major Spanish theatres and concert halls.
He was also featured with Michel Camilo at the North Sea, Perugia, Montreal and Montreux Jazz Festivals before participating with his Sextet at other Swiss events such as In Guitar in Dubendorf and La Batie de Geneve. At this last concert he is invited back to perform in Geneva's homage to Camarón de la Isla this spring, after closing the Internationales Jazzfestival in Basle in May.
He began 2002 with a sellout concert at the Palais de Beaux Arts, Brussels, going on to participate in the Basel International Jazz Festival. Other events this year include Flamenco à Biarritz, Nuits de la Mediterranée, Tangier and Fiesta des Suds, Marseille. Special projects include composition of the score for Aida Gómez production of Salomé directed by Carlos Saura and also for the Centro Andaluz de Teatro’s new work Romeo & Juliet for which he has received the 2004 Max Prize for Scenic Arts for Best Musical Director.
Joining forces with his close friend Raimundo Amador he toured Spain with Raimundo & Tomate throughout the summer. The, alongside his great friend the classical guitarist Carles Trepat he ventured into the musical world of Astor Piazzolla which culminated in a debut concert during the XII Bienal de Flamenco at thel Teatro de la Maestranza, Seville and later at thel Festival de la Guitarra de Barcelona, in the Palau de la Musica Catalana as web as other important Spanish and international venues..
2003 began with the opening of the play Romeo y Julieta (dir. Emilio Hernández) for which TOMATITO created the sountrack, again for the Compañía Andaluza de Teatro. Critics highlighted the original perspective not only of the mise-en-scène but also the soundtrack itself.
During the Spring TOMATITO toured in Japan and Switzerland and presented his own band for the first time in the US in early February 2003, visiting among other cities, New York, Chicago and Washington D.C. in early 2003. Throughout the summer he was invited to France’s Festival de Jazz de Sète and the Internationales de la Guitare, Montpellier. On October 6th, 2003, TOMATITO played London’s Royal Albert Hall thereby becoming the first solo flamenco guitarist to perform on this historic stage .
He has collaborated on Paco de Lucía’s album “Cositas Buenas”, specifically on the Bulerías dedicated to Camarón de la Isla. He then began preparing SONANTA SUITE, in which his music is orchestrated for the first time ever under the baton of maestro Juan Albert Amargós. This work premièred at L’Auditori in Barcelona in June 2004 and toured Spain’s most prestigious music festivals. The popular television programme “Las 1001 Noches” (RTVA) recently paid homage to his outstanding career in a two hour live interview.
The album “Aguadulce”, released on Verve in June 2004 reflects TOMATITO’s intention to return “home”. Named after the town he lives in, it is hailed as one of this years best flamenco recordings. With this new repertoire he has visited throughout 2004, Japan, Austria’s Glatt & Verkehrt Festival, Prague’s Smetana Hall, Montpellier’s Palais de Rois de Majorque and Dublin’s National Concert Hall. He is invited to perform at the Carrefour de la Guitare, Martinique and the Festival des Andalousies Atlantiques, Essaouira, Morocco.
2005 begins for TOMATITO with a sell-out concert at Carnegie Hall alongside Enrique Morente. Among the events and venues he is to play at throughout the year, after inaugurating the Barcelona Guitar Festival and the XV Mediterranean Games, Almería, are Copenhagen’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, North Sea Jazz Festival, London’s Barbican Centre, Nuits de la Guitare de Patrimonio, the Rivierenhof in Antwerp and the Peace Festival 2005 – Beyond DMZ in Korea in August 2005.
This year starts in New York, for the recording of SPAIN AGAIN with Michel Camilo. After a sell-out concert at the Palau de la Música Catalana during the Festival Mil.leni, TOMATITO presents Aguadulce at the Cirque D’Hiver, Paris and later tours France visiting Bordeaux, Lyon, Le Havre and other major cities. SPAIN AGAIN is released mid-May and the duo plans concerts at Europe’s principal Jazz festivals and theatres, The International Guitar Festival in Cordoba, the Mar de Músicas Festival in Cartagena , The Grec Festival Barcelona among others.