The cellist Yo-Yo Ma has done all sorts of dilettante-ish dabbling, e.g. his misguided attempts at jazz. Nobody judges him by that stuff, just as nobody judges Michael Jordan by his baseball playing. Yet in America Paco de Lucia is thought of as a technically gifted guitarist specializing in atmospheric noodling and collaborations with sparkly-toothed "fusion" types.
As someone who's spent lots of time in Spain, I know that's not who he was. Actually, he was one of the most staunchly traditional flamenco guitarists of his generation. Forget the bloodless image you may have of him and listen to this (one of his many collaborations with the flamenco genius Camaron de la Isla):
It was assumed that when it came to flamenco, Americans couldn't possibly appreciate the real shit. And so none of these recordings with Camaron has been easily available here (this is also why de Lucia stuck to noodly atmospherics outside Spain). I, myself, got lucky. During an early visit to Spain in the 1990's, a local pressed a cassette tape into my hand and urged me to check it out when I got home. It was my first taste of the great Camaron, mesmerizingly backed by a guitarist whose red-blooded ardor was encouraged with shouts of "¡Venga, Paco!". It blew my mind to discover that it was de Lucia. Wait...that guy???
That was who and what Paco de Lucia really was. I became an enormous fan, and have, over the years, scooped up all the Cameron/de Lucia CDs I could get my hands on. And I'd suggest you do likewise.
Here's another taste:
Last, but definitely not lease, this one was recorded in a bar (the only place where flamenco - like jazz - should ever be performed) and absolutely KILLS:
Real Chinese restaurants assume Americans won't like briny, funky fermented bean curd sauce ("foo-yee" in Cantonese, "foo-roo" in Mandarin). It's never on the menu, you always have to beg for it over the waiter's insistence that you won't enjoy it. Yet everyone I've turned onto it loves the stuff (it's best on watercress). Same for real flamenco. Chowhounding, music-hounding, and all other sorts of hounding require looking deeper, crashing through barriers, and seeing past the misdirection. The only alternative is to passively accept and embody the blandness that's expected of you.