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Javier Estrada: Gypsy Guitar Legend

By Horace Whittlesey and Scott Simmons

Javier Estrada was born to a Spanish immigrant Gypsy family in México City in 1946. As a child, his Roma Grandfather regaled him with tales of his family and the Roma People’s history of exile and diaspora beginning over a millennia ago in India, into Eastern Europe, then to Spain, and finally over the past two centuries to the Americas, principally México.

Javier’s grandfather taught him to play guitar at an early age and played old records of Spanish gypsy-flamenco guitar music to inspire him. Javier’s destiny as a gypsy guitar legend took root while listening in awe in his family’s living room to recordings of the great French classic gypsy guitar master Manitas de Plata.

At the age of eight, recognizing Javier’s innate musical talent, genius, and passion, his family enrolled him in one of México City’s leading music academies where he spent several years studying music theory, composition, harmony, instrumentation, vocals, and music history along with standardized Mexican school curricula. Javier composed his first gypsy guitar instrumental at age twelve, and sixty years later has over 180 songs to his credit.

It wasn’t until his mid 40’s that Javier actually travelled to Spain and Southeastern France near the Spanish border at the invitation of the Gypsy Kings’ founding Reyes brothers, nephews of Manitas de Plata. There Javier spent many months understudying the great French gypsy guitar composers-players, all of them with deep affection and respect for the greatest gypsy guitar master of them all, the inimitable Belgian Roma Gypsy, Django Reinhardt, creator of his own separate genre of gypsy swing music.

At 17, Javier’s restless gypsy spirit took hold of him when he met a foreign couple traveling by microbus near México City’s Chapultepec Castle and Park. They befriended Javier and invited him to join them onto their next destination, San Miguel de Allende. Our magic city enthralled him, enamored his gypsy spirit, and he made his home here for the past 55 years.

A documentary about Javier Estrada and his last performances in San Miguel de Allende before traveling to Canada was made by Cast of Characters Productions as a tribute to their good friend. Javier Estrada: Gypsy Guitar Legend will premier Wednesday, July 10, at 7pm in the Santa Ana Theatre.

 

Documentary

“Javier Estrada: Gypsy Guitar Legend”

Wed, Jul 10, 7pm

Teatro Santa Ana

Reloj 50A

200 pesos

 

estrada

 

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