Diego el Cigala's Timeless Voice Creates an Irresistible Atmosphere—Intimate, Soulful and Beguilingly Seductive.
The Sinatra of Flamenco Performs at Irvine Barclay Theatre
Friday, March 1, 2019 at 8pm
Tickets: $45, $55, $65, $150
Irvine Barclay Theatre - 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine CA
www.thebarclay.org | 949.854.4646
A three-time Grammy winner, Diego el Cigala has captivated audiences all over the world with his gravelly voice and passionate interpretation of flamenco. Born in Madrid, Diego el Cigala has often been touted as "the Sinatra of Flamenco.” His various collaborations with world-renowned Latin American artists have earned him a reputation for seamlessly melding the rhythms and melodies of his Spanish Gitano heritage with styles ranging from bolero to son, tango, and Afro-Caribbean jazz.
Jaime Calabuch, Piano
REVIEWS & FEATUTES
"He radiates a magnetic mix of winking charm and unpredictable vitriol reminiscent of a singer from an entirely different milieu, Frank Sinatra." — The New York Times
"Diego has one of the most beautiful flamenco voices of our time, a voice of sweetness that flows over everything." — Paco de Lucía
"Flamenco royalty...just listen to his extraordinary sobbing voice." — BBC
ABOUT THE SHOW
There are key moments in an artist’s life, experiences that leave an indelible mark and determine his/her future. Some say that they are but a conduit, expressing something bigger than themselves that has possessed them and defines their work. Diego el Cigala is one of those chosen artists for whom music is a calling.
Throughout his life, he has had many experiences that have shaped him as an artist. But in the year 2000, he experienced an epiphany that took hold of him and changed his artistic future forever. Without warning, a person and an instrument came into his life and revolutionized his musical worldview. There was no turning back.
This person was the late maestro Bebo Valdés. The instrument was the piano. With this encounter, Diego was catapulted beyond his geographic, cultural and human frontiers, beyond flamenco and the guitar accompaniment he was so used to. Cigala has always said that getting to know Bebo was the most important part of the album Lágrimas Negras, an invaluable experience both musically and personally. But what happened with the piano was also love at first sight. And from that moment on, he could never leave it behind.
After the great maestro Bebo, Cigala went on to work with Chucho Valdés and later with Caramelo de Cuba. But in 2005, he met Jaime Calabuch, “Jumitus,” a Gypsy with a Latin soul, born in Barcelona’s Barrio de Gracia. He has been his pianist ever since, giving life to the instrument that has continued to occupy a very special place for Cigala. This deep love for the piano has led Diego to develop a new and profoundly intimate project. We are invited to delve into another facet of Cigala’s work with a repertory of classic favorites.
DIEGO EL CIGALA
Spain has produced many thrilling flamenco singers, but none so brilliant or innovative as Diego el Cigala.
He was born in 1968, on Provisiones Street near Madrid’s famed flea market, El Rastro. Diego’s mother, Aurora Salazar Motos, sister of the great musician Rafael Farina from the Spanish city of Salamanca, did not pursue a professional career as a flamenco singer despite her great talent. His Andalusian father, José de Córdoba, made a living at popular tablaos (flamenco clubs) such as Torres Bermejas, El Corral de la Pacheca, and Arco de Cuchilleros.
Ramón Jiménez Salazar is the name that appears on Cigala’s passport. His commonly used name of “Diego” is the result of a family dispute while at the baptismal font. “El Cigala” was a nickname given to him by gypsy guitarists, the Losada brothers—and not, as it is often said, by famed flamenco singer Camarón during one of their first tours together.
Little Diego spent his time running after a soccer ball; but whenever he heard flamenco, he would drop everything just to listen. Soon he started to sing for dancers, invited by well-known artists such as Cristóbal Reyes, Mario Maya, Manolete, Farrruco, Manuel Camacho and El Güito, among others. Musicians such as Camarón, Tomatito, Gerardo Nuñez and Vicente Amigo began to collaborate with him on their recordings.
Cigala began his solo career in 1997 with the album Undebel, produced by David Amaya and featuring guitarists Antón Jiménez, David Amaya, Paquete, and Tomatito. In 2000, he released his second album, Entre Vareta y Canasta.
Everything began to change in 2001 with the release of Corren Tiempos de Alegría, which was nominated for Best Flamenco Album at the Latin Grammys. Fernando Trueba, the award-winning Spanish director, was editing his music documentary, Calle 54, and Diego was blown away by Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés performing the song “Lágrimas Negras” with a fellow countryman, Cachao Lopez. Diego declared that he had to meet Valdés and play with him. They began with “Amar y Vivir,” written by Consuelo Velásquez.
“Por qué no han de saber, que yo te amo vida mía…” (Why shouldn’t they know that I love you, my darling?), sang Diego, on what would become the first studio track that he recorded with Bebo, and destined to appear on the album Corren Tiempos de Alegría.
“I still remember the excitement of that Sunday morning in which Bebo and Diego recorded together for the first time,” recalled Fernando Trueba. “Everybody cried.”
That same year, Cigala recorded the album Piratas del Flamenco with celebrated Latino jazz trumpeter and percussionist Jerry González. They both toured throughout Mexico and Spain with a breathtaking live show. Months later, Cigala performed at one of the most coveted stages: the Teatro Real in Madrid. The recording of this concert, including a collaboration with Niño Josele, became a monumental flamenco manifesto of Cigala.
Both Bebo and Diego felt that their initial collaboration was just the beginning, and that they needed to take their musical encounter further. In 2003, Cigala and Valdés delivered Lágrimas Negras (Black Tears) at the Gusman Theatre in Miami. The next morning, the press described the pianist as “a living classic of the Cuban music” and the flamenco singer as the “Sinatra of flamenco.”
Lágrimas Negras went from an intimate, spontaneous project to an unstoppable superhit that went far beyond the borders of flamenco and Latin music to win over hundreds of thousands of mainstream music fans all over the world. The excellent reviews, the brilliant live performances and fantastic word of mouth all worked together to keep this album at the top of the charts for the next two years. Aside from winning numerous awards, including the Ondas Award, the Micrófono de Oro, five Amigo Awards, three Musica Awards, two Grammy and five Latin Grammy nominations, it was hailed as album of the year by critic Ben Ratliff of The New York Times.
In 2005, Diego decided to pay homage to one of the greatest painters of all times, Pablo Picasso. Cigala won his second Latin Grammy in 2006 for Picasso en mis ojos (Picasso in My Eyes), which also became a bestseller. In 2006, Cigala released a collection of his work in a 5-CD set. In addition, at the Bienal de Sevilla, Diego shared the stage with Salif Keïta, considered the golden voice of African music. The occasion only served to confirm Cigala’s ease in adapting his art to great popular songs rooted in diverse cultures.
In 2010, Diego traveled to Argentina to record Cigala & Tango, a live recording at the Teatro Gran Rex in Buenos Aires, with repertoire based on the Argentine tango. After merging his own band with two of Argentina’s tango masters—bandoneonist Néstor Marconi and guitarist Juanjo Dominguez—the results were, once again, musical magic. In the background, we have two additional well-known Argentine musicians: Pablo Agri on the violin and Diego Sanchez on the cello. The rocker Andrés Calamaro also put his unique stamp on this project. Cigala & Tango won a Latin Grammy for Best Tango Album, and went on to generate fantastic sales, great reviews, and a sold-out tour that played to more than 160,000 awed fans.
Cigala’s recording of Romance de la luna Tucuman in 2013, offers a fresh take on the Argentine repertoire, this time focusing on folkloric aspects. Key to some of the excitement generated by this CD was the participation of Mexico’s famed electric guitarist Diego Garcia, known as “The Twanguero,” who brought a totally new sound to Diego. Also critical to the success of this unique collaboration was the influence of two Argentine singers: Adriana Varela and the legendary Mercedes Sosa. The album quickly became a huge sensation in Spain, reaching gold record status in its debut week.
Romance de la luna Tucuman went on to triumph at the 2013 Latin Grammys, winning Cigala his second Latin Grammy for Best Tango Album.
Cigala released Indestructible in 2016. Conceived in six different studios—Cali, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Havana, New York and Miami, Indestructible is Cigala’s first salsa album.
About Irvine Barclay Theatre
Since opening its doors in 1990, Irvine Barclay Theatre has emerged as one of California's most imaginative performing arts showcases. A unique collaborative venture among the City of Irvine, the University of California, Irvine, and the private sector, the theatre has a reputation for wide-ranging programming in the fields of contemporary dance, music, and theater arts. Performances take place in the 750-seat "jewel box" theatre which is renowned for its intimate atmosphere and superb acoustics. Visit www.thebarclay.org to learn about our exciting new season!