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, Rovi