El Cigala 311.
(photo credit: Juan Aldabaldetrecu)
Flamenco is one of the most emotive areas of
music and dance, and Spanish vocalist Diego Jimenez Ramon Salazar -
better known by his stage name el Cigala - certainly wears his heart on
his sleeve in his concerts and in the recording studio. This is evident
in his latest release, Dos Lagrimas, and will surely come through just as strongly at his forthcoming show at Tel Aviv's Mann Auditorium on Tuesday.
41-year-old el Cigala has certainly paid his dues, earning his keep as
a backing vocalist for a slew of top notch flamenco dancers and also
serving as understudy to iconic singer El Camarón de la Isla (aka
Camarón), who died in 1992 at the young age of 41. Like Camarón, el
Cigala initially honed his singing skills at the university of the
streets - literally - busking all over Spain as well as singing at all
kinds of modest venues before stepping into the limelight. "I always
knew I was going to be a musician," says el Cigala. "It was my dream
since I was a kid."
Besides accruing abundant hands-on experience el Cigala also
tapped into the skills and life experience of some greats along the
way. "I was mostly influenced by Camarón, but also by my uncle [singer]
Rafael Farina, [singer] Ramon el Portogues and many others."
Various cultural influences have also found their way into the
el Cigala mix over the years, which, considering the hybrid source of
the flamenco tradition, is only natural. "Flamenco has its base in four
cultures: one of them is Arabic, and the others are Jewish, Christian
and Gypsy," he notes. Dos Lagrimas
takes on board other elements as well, fusing flamenco with various Cuban musical styles and jazz. "Dos Lagrimas
is the result of the development of my first contact with Afro Cuban music and Latin jazz, which was with [2003 el Cigala CD] Lagrimas Negras
el Cigala explains. "This is my musical evolution in this area, which I
have experienced in the last years together with great masters."
ON LAGRIMAS Negras
, el Cigala enjoyed the well-seasoned
peerless services of then octogenarian - now in his nineties and still
going strong - Cuban Latin jazz pianist Bebo Valdez. "Working with Bebo
was also a very essential emotion and process of learning," the singer
reflects. "And, of course, it was the best connection to Cuba. It was
the key which opened a new world to me."
you, even though he incorporates somewhat extraneous elements in his
work, el Cigala says he steers clear of any expressly money-spinning
endeavors. "My influences aren't commercial. I feed off music that has
roots which, of course, include flamenco and Afro Cuban-Latin jazz -
everything that I call music of the soul."
Possibly his most jazz-inflected work and
enriching musical experience to date was the 2001 synergy with American
trumpeter Jerry Gonzalez, which produced the el Cigala's third album, Corren tiempos de alegria
"Sharing with Jerry is, to me, [like] receiving teaching from a
'catedrático' (master), a living legend." And, it seems, there is more
where that came from. "With Jerry we are working together to bring out
his new work, which is edited by Cigala Music, and I hope that you will
enjoy it soon in Israel," he adds.
This will be el Cigala's second visit here, having shared a
stage in 2008 with David Broza in the dance-percussion Mayumana show.
El Cigala says he is looking forward to being here once more and,
possibly, getting into some of the ethnic vibes we have to offer. "I
confess that I don't know the ladino music good enough. It is a new
challenge which will be sorted out on this and on my next visits to
Diego el Cigala will appear at the Mann Auditorium in Tel
Aviv on January 26 at 9 p.m., accompanied by pianist Jumitus, double
bass player Yelsy, percussionist Porrina and guitarist Morao. For
tickets surf to www.tkts.co.il or call (03) 604-5000.