Thursday, March 08, 2012


This Holy Week saeta, recorded on the streets of Seville in 1950, was heard by Miles Davis and his arranger Gil Evans on the Spain volume of The Columbia World Library of Folk and Primitive Music and adapted by them while they were working on Miles’ 1960 album Sketches of Spain.

“The saete, in flamencan music, is ‘the arrow song.’ One of the oldest religious types of music in Andalusia, it is usually sung without accompaniment during the Holy Week procession in Seville. It tells of the Passion of Christ and is usually addressed to the image of the crucified Christ that is carried in the march or to the Virgin Mary. As described by Gilbert Chase, ‘The singer, usually a woman, stands on a balcony overlooking the procession, grasping the iron railing firmly in both hands (the grip tightens as the emotion grows). The procession stops so that the image which is being addressed remains stationary while the saeta is being sung. A fanfare of trumpets gives the signal for the procession, to move on.’”  (from Nat Hentoff’s liner notes to Sketches of Spain.)

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