Denver, CO is winter home nowadays.
My car got stuck in the snow, summer tires on. Yes, I know. Unable to dig it out, someone, unexpectedly, pulled over. Young father and daughter helped me resolve, in minutes.
We barely got to exchange words; I left the corner of S Gaylord St and E Tennessee Ave certain that I would not see them again. Weeks later, I noticed both across my table at Max Gill and Grill, and visited theirs to offer a token of appreciation. Memory served them well.
Years on this side of the Atlantic would teach one that unsolicited achievements shared by unfamiliar faces at venues of the night life are, not so rarely, social dynamics' performance tools. He was different. Gracious. Sitting with them, I learned that he was a guitar player --a professional one, and identified myself as former colleague. Vastly illiterate about pop culture, I was afraid that I had not heard his music. I felt a current touring my spine in response to his sharing: I knew very well this one song of his, gifted to me by an American friend, on a blue Sunday of life. I had grown fondly of it; far away in time and space, I had once written a similar for a special being.
Inquiring in reciprocation, appreciative of Flamenco technique, he found me empty handed. I had no single record of anything musical that I had done in my life. Not even a picture.
It was not until another turn of events that this came to be. Rod brought Gio and I together, under beautiful sunny Sundays at his restaurant's marvelous patio.
Years of inactivity had been taxing. It did not help that I have a skewed-to-the-outside broken left pinky finger --the reason why I once relinquished the guitar, and the prospect of a professional career with it.
I bought a guitar and started bringing it with me everywhere I went. Previous idle time was now practice time. Finally coming to terms with the fact that I will not be able to play with the speed and precision I once did, I recalled my Master's insight:
"for Barrios, it was about the right feeling by the right notes, at the right timing, executed in the right way. Silences included."
-Jose Candido Morales
Barrios Mangore, Jose Candido's Master, likely the most naturally talented classical guitar composer and performer in human history, had a superhuman ability to capture emotion at a compositional density and prolificity that would take the best years of practice just to execute.
Jose Candido's recollection of Mangore's quote is not to be applied to Mangore's standards, but to each own's.
I learned in 2000 that Jose Candido was fading, and made a trip to see him. He was legally blind, his hands suffering from polyarthritis. Still massive in presence and stature, physically and musically. Still running Academia Mangoreana. Still teaching. His gift for the visit? An impromptu performance of Barrios' La Catedral's 3rd movement, allegro solemne. But of course.
Jose Candido left us in March, 2002, almost forgotten by his own El Salvador. His daughter came across the farewell letter I wrote for him, posted on my faculty webpage when I was Adjunct at The University of Denver. She sent me a beautiful e-mail, which I accidentally lost. I wish that she finds this blog one day.
This is our music. Graciously dedicated to the legacy and work of Agustin and Jose Candido. I hope that it touches your hearts as fondly as it touches ours.
--Oscar Del Barrios