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Singer DIEGO EL CIGALA, a creative force in contemporary flamenco, reimagines the classic salsa sound

in his new recording and tour “Indestructible”;

CD release is October 28th on Sony Music Latin;

“Indestructible” features special guests Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Larry Harlow, Oscar D’Leon,

Luis “Perico” Ortiz , Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, and more;

The 2016 tour for Diego El Cigala and his new 10-piece flamenco-salsa group begins October 20th

“A musical game-changer, the rare musician who single-handedly alters the direction of a genre” -- NPR


Fri Oct 21 Boston, MA Berklee Performance Center

Sat Oct 22 New York, NY The Town Hall

Sat Oct 29 Miami, FL Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theatre

Tues Nov 1 Davis, CA Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts

Thurs Nov 3 San Francisco, CA SFJAZZ Center

Fri Nov 4 San Francisco, CA SFJAZZ Center

Sat Nov 5 San Francisco, CA SFJAZZ Center

Sun Nov 6 San Francisco, CA SFJAZZ Center

Fri Nov 18 Los Angeles, CA Luckman Fine Arts Complex

Sat Nov 19 San Diego, CA Copley Symphony Hall

Sun Nov 20 Vancouver, BC, CAN Chan Centre for the Arts

Indestructible, the new recording by flamenco singer Diego El Cigala sounds both familiar and different.

The sound of the album, which will be released by Sony Music Latin on October 28, evokes the classic salsa of the 70s, sensual and gritty. The songs stir up memories of legends — “Juanito Alimaña” or “Periódico de Ayer” (Yesterday’s News) remind us of Hector Lavoe; “Moreno Soy” (I Am a Moreno) reacalls La Sonora Ponceña and the title track, Tito Allen with the great Ray Barretto. To those songs, Cigala brings the duende and drama of flamenco and that voice — a remarkable instrument, powerful and expressive, strong and vulnerable, seemingly fraying at the edges.

Recorded in New York, Miami, San Juan, Puerto Rico and Cali, Colombia as well as Jerez de la Frontera, Andalucia, and Barcelona in Spain,Indestructible features a superb cast includes figures such as singer Oscar D’Leon, pianistsGonzalo Rubalcaba and Larry Harlow, trumpeter Luis “Perico” Ortiz, and many of the original Fania studio musicians.

The sum total is all Cigala.

“There is no reason for me to copy what already´s been done and done so well by those giants,” says Cigala from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, his home for the past four years. “What I do is to interpret it with a flamenco voice, and even then, I want to add just the right touch, because otherwise the music would lose its natural flavor. That´s the work: to preserve both, what is salsa and what is flamenco, in a way that they don’t clash.”

The Indestructible tour, featuring Diego El Cigala and his ten piece band, opens Oct 21 in Boston and continues on to New York City, Miami, Davis, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Vancouver. . It will feature an exciting new lineup for the singer, a 10-piece salsa band featuring two trumpets, two trombones, a Latin percussion section and two vocalists, anchored by Cigala’s longtime collaborators, the pianist and arranger Jaime Calabuch and bassist Yelsy Heredia.

Diego El Cigala was born Ramón Jiménez Salazar into a family of Spanish Gypsy artists in Madrid, Spain. (The nickname, El Cigala, (langoustine) alludes to his long, thin frame.)

Cigala was already a rising star and one of the most distinctive young voices in flamenco when he met the great Cuban pianist, composer and arranger Bebo Valdés in 2001. The encounter led to a collaboration that blossomed into an improbable musical partnership that, just a year later, produced Lágrimas Negras (Black Tears), an album of classics of both popular Cuban music and Argentine tango, reimagined with a flamenco spirit. The record won a Latin Grammy in 2004 for Best Traditional Tropical Album and became an unlikely worldwide hit. It also set Cigala’s career on a fresh new path.

Since, Cigala has made an art form of making different musical traditions into his own. He has held to his flamenco roots with recordings such as Picasso en Mis Ojos (2005) in which he called on flamenco guitar masters Paco de Lucia and Tomatito, and then also set out to further investigate Cuban music (Dos Lágrimas, 2008); tango (Cigala & Tango, 2010) and tango and Argentine folk music (Romance de la Luna Tucumana, 2013). Whatever the material, he has a way of putting his imprint in every style and every song. A Spanish journalist once called it “acigalar,” a play on words in Spanish with acicalar, to “do up” – Cigala style.

There is no set method for tailoring the material to his style but rather, he says, it´s all about feel.

“It’s something much more intuitive and emotional,” says Cigala. In Indestructible, “the choice of the songs had to do with the lyrics and with who sang them — Hector Lavoe, Cheo Feliciano, Benny Moré. So you look at the classics, you try some of them out and those that fit best, those that hurt the most, those are the ones you pick. That’s when the work starts and you try to figure how you can take those songs to your world.”

Indestructible is both his most ambitious and his most personal project yet, a dream shared by Cigala and his late wife and partner in his music adventures, Amparo, who passed away in August of 2015. “We both liked salsa a lot, “ he says, softly. “But the salsa that is no longer played, 70s salsa, the Fania sound, salsa dura (hard salsa).”

Salsa was born as a New York sound — sexy, brassy, aggressive — that drew elements from jazz, soul and R&B, but was founded on Afro-Cuban music. A recording of salsa seems like a natural progression then for Cigala, after his work with Bebo Valdés.

“Of course it has to do with the work I did with Bebo,” says Cigala, who once noted he didn’t know Cuban music styles such the son, danzón, or the cha cha chá before recording with Valdés.

“It’s clear that because of that work, thanks to his piano, we are here today. That’s why in the record there is a tribute to Bebo, ‘Fiesta para Bebo’. And then, havinga chance to play with Cuban music with masters such as Tata Guines, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Changuito has been fantastic,” he adds. “These are geniuses of this music. Working with them, you have to learn something,” he says breaking into a laugh.

Salsa became an international phenomenon, and as the music was reinterpreted in places such as Puerto Rico and Colombia, it took a distinct accent in evey place. “That´s why we recorded in New York and Miami and Cali and Puerto Rico,” says Cigala. “ And in each place we found great musicians, like the guys from Fania or Los Muñequitos de Matanzas. It was crazy.”

The album includes classics such as “Conversación en tiempo de bolero” (A Conversation at Bolero Tempo), once a staple of Vicentico Valdés; Manuel Alejandro’s hit “Se nos rompió el amor” (Our Love Has Fallen Apart), and “Hacha y Machete” (Ax and Machete), recorded by Hector Lavoe and featuring here the great Roberto Roena on bongos and Luis “Perico” Ortiz on trumpet. Tellingly, Indestructible closes with a return to the sources in a stripped down, intimate version of the classic “Como Fue” (How Was It), a classic immortalized by Benny Moré, one of the greatest soneros in Cuban music history.

“These are songs de toda la vida -- timeless songs -- done with a 70s, 80s salsa sound and a flamenco voice,” says Cigala. “And the results are beautiful.”

Tour lineup:

Diego el Cigala – Voice

Jaime Calabuch “Jumitus” - Piano

Yelsy Heredia – Bass

Bernardo Aguirre - Trombone

Richard Stella - Trombone

Carlos Martínez – Trumpet

Anibal Martinez – Trumpet

Diego Giraldo – backing salsa vocals

Giovanni Betancourt – backing salsa vocals

David Marcano – Timbales

Daniel Diaz – Congas

CD track listing:



Produced by: Ram ó n Jim é nez & Jaime Calabuch

Executive producer: Julio C é sar Fern á ndez

1. Moreno Soy (I am a Moreno) – 4:40

2. Juanito Alimaña – 4:58

3. Conversación en Tiempo de Bolero (A Conversation in Bolero Tempo) – 4:13 featuring Gonzalo Rublacaba

4. El Paso de Encarnación (Encarnación’s Dance Moves)– 5:15 feat. Oscar D’Leon

5. Periódico de Ayer (Yesterday’s Newspaper)– 4:30

6. Fiesta Para Bebo (Celebration for Bebo)– 4:01 feat. Los Muñequitos de Matanzas

7. Se Nos Rompió el Amor (Our Love Has Fallen Apart) – 4:50

8. Indestructible – 4:16

9. El Ratón (The Rat)– 3:49

10. Hacha y Machete (Hatchet and Machete) – 4:58

11. Cómo Fue (How Was It?)– 4:52 feat. Gonzalo Rubalcaba


Written by Francisco Alvarado. A Fania classic, originally recorded by Sonora Ponceña. This track was recorded in Cali, Colombia and features the classic Fania salsa sound of the ‘70s blended with the salsa style of Colombia.


A Fania classic written by legendary Tite Curet Alonso. This track was recorded in Puerto Rico and features all the top salsa players in Puerto Rico. Includes: Ceferino Cabán (piano), Sammy Garcia (percussion), Luis Aquino (trumpet), Luisito Carrión (backing vocals)


A classic composition by Cuban composer René Touzet. This track was recorded at Miami’s Criteria/Hit Factory and features Gonzalo Rubalcaba on piano with Horacio “El Negro” Hernández (drums), Richard Bravo (conga drums) and José Armando Gola (bass)


Written by Pedro Pablo Aranzola Mesa and Manuel López Quiroga Miguel. This track was recorded between Miami and Cali, Colombia. It features legendary salsa singer Oscar D’León singing a duet with Diego, and a trumpet solo by top salsa and Latin jazz trumpet player Luis “Perico” Ortiz.


A classic Fania track originally recorded by Héctor Lavoe, penned by legendary salsa writer Tite Curet Alonso. This track was recorded in Puerto Rico and features all the top salsa session players in Puerto Rico. Includes: Ceferino Cabán (piano), Sammy Garcia (percussion), Luis Aquino (trumpet), Luisito Carrión (backing vocals).


Written by longtime Diego collaborator and pianist Jaime Calabuch. This tribute to Bebo Valdés was recorded in Havana and features the Cuban group Los Muñequitos de Matanzas.


A classic contemporary Latin song penned by legendary writer and producer Manuel Alejandro and originally made popular by fellow Spaniard Rocío Jurado. This track was recorded in Colombia and features the classic Fania salsa sound of the ‘70s blended with the salsa style of Colombia.


A classic Fania track written by legendary conga drummer Ray Barretto. This track was recorded in Puerto Rico and features many of the original Fania session players plus top Puerto Rico salsa session players.


A classic Fania track, written and originally recorded by Cheo Feliciano. This track was recorded in Puerto Rico and features many of the original Fania musicians and session players which include: Larry Harlow (piano), Bobby Valentin (bass), Roberto Roena (percussion), Jorge Santana (guitar), Luis “Perico” Ortiz (trumpet), Nicky Marrero (percussion).


A Fania classic originally recorded by Héctor Lavoe, written by longtime salsa/tropical music writer Enildo Padrón. This track was recorded in Puerto Rico and Cali, Colombia and features Roberto Roena (bongos), Luis “Perico” Ortiz (trumpet), Luisito Carrión (backing vocals)


The classic Cuban bolero originally recorded and made popular by Beny Moré. This track was recorded at Miami’s Criteria/Hit Factory. It is a vocal-and-piano duet with Gonzalo Rubalcaba