Under the direction of bassist Juanlu, one of founding members of the world-renowned flamenco fusion group Ojos de Brujo, Calima pushes the flamenco fusion ideal further, employing a large international collective of musicians who together create a musical experience that won them immediate accolades, including a Latin Grammy nomination for their 2007 debut album, Azul. Along with guitarist Ramón Giménez, Juanlu (aka El Cani) founded Ojos de Brujo in 1990 in Barcelona. The group evolved over many years to become an internationally adored flamenco group, in part because of their willingness to tour relentlessly but also because of their fusion of musical styles, particularly their knack for hip-hop beats and rapping. Juanlu, who was born in Barcelona but lived for a time in both Los Angeles and Brazil and who is a veteran of several bands, left Ojos de Brujo after Techarí (2006), their most popular album to date.
Upon leaving Ojos de Brujo, Juanlu proceeded to regroup Calima and make this former side project a full-time effort. Originally founded in 2004, the group is comprised of a diverse stable of musicians: David "El Rubio" (vocals, guitar; from Barcelona), Giner "El Negro" (rapping, flamenco singing; Venezuela), Chus "El Tobalo" (cajón, piano; Badajoz, Spain), Antonio "El Flamencorro" (guitar; Sevilla), Fran "El Geiaka" (percussion; Granada, Spain), Laura "La Bicha" (flamenco dancing; Barcelona), Diego Lezkano (conga, drums; Argentina), Nicola "El Newspaper Boy" (trumpet; California), Ann "La Niña" (violin; Sweden) -- and many others, depending on the when and where of the situation, for there is also a so-called Calima Big Band that adds another half-dozen names to the bandmember list.
The recording of Calima's debut album, Azul (2007), likewise included a cast of musicians, many of them invited as guests and many of them international, resulting in a true musical fusion. Released by EMI, Azul was well-received critically, no doubt in part because of Juanlu's sterling reputation as a founding member of Ojos de Brujo; most notably, the album earned a 2007 Latin Grammy nomination for Best Flamenco Album, an award ultimately won -- in an amusing twist of fate -- by Ojos de Brujo for Techarí. Meanwhile, Calima continued to focus on their live performances throughout 2007 and 2008, including numerous festival appearances such as Viñarock and Flamenco Festival de Barcelona. ~ Jason Birchmeier