Husband to Mina, Chusco was the name given to Jose ValleFajardo by his Grandfather. Since then, the name Chusco has come to describe a guitarist of consummate skill and a profound understanding of the Flamenco traditions.
A native of Antequera, Spain, Chuscales grew up in a traditional gypsy family well known for its professional musicians and dancers. His grandmother was among those who lived in the caves of Sacromonte, one of the legendary cradles of flamenco. Chuscales recalls, “there were shows, with Gypsies from Granada who grew up in families that lived there. I wish you could see it, the families in the caves and the singing and dancing. There might be seven, eight, maybe nine caves, all with singing and dancing, and there would be more singing and dancing on the streets every day. It was unbelievable. It was very formative time in all my life. It was like a dream. This is where I learned everything — the rhythm, the beat, the guitar. I amstill learning from those thousands of nights performing with my family, with my father, my grandfather, and my friends.
Chusco began guitar lessons at age six under the instruction of his uncle Joaquín Fajardo as well as Maestro Agustinillo, two prominent masters in the region where such greats as Segovia have studied. As a teenager, Chuscales found himself frequently in the company of Paco de Lucía, who often performed in the area and would take time to play with the talented youngster and to answer his questions. Meanwhile, he began his performing career as a dancer — an experience that provides him with a detailed understanding of flamenco’s rhythmic nuances. Chusco elaborates as the accompanying guitarist, “I can understand and follow dancers. I can see where they are going before they take their next step. I know what the dancer is looking for, how much tension is in the music, the right rhythm, when to play strong or soft so if a dancer asks me for something, I know what they ask.” Chuscales’ affinity for dance is delightfully apparent in his artistry, blending music and movement as he does is no accident. “It’s something we learn through life,” he says. “A lot of people don’t have my luck to grow up in the caves, learning flamenco in a Gypcy family where the music comes from tradition to tradition, from legend to legend. I thank God I have been around such great musicians all my life.
Whether versed in flamenco traditions or not, audiences find Chuscales’ music at once touching and exotic, his presence is engaging and his skill as a guitarist, simply astounding. A Chuscales concert is an experience that audiences take with them.