Black Atlantic: Diego El Cigala (Spain/Dominican Republic)
Diego El Cigala emerged as a modern flamenco icon in the late 1990s. With his distinctive gravelly voice and his luxuriant black curls, he conjured the romance of the form, updating it with a swagger all his own. But El Cigala was never content to sing mere flamenco. Indeed, his 2004 collaboration with legendary Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés daringly tied his style to dashing Cuban rhythms, suggesting that his future extended far beyond Andalusian territory. A decade later, he explored tango, even winning a Latin GRAMMY in the genre. It became clear that El Cigala was interested in exploring raw, emotional music, no matter the country of origin.
That is the underlying concept of Indestructible, El Cigala's masterful 2016 album of spirited salsa, delivered with authoritative flamenco power. El Cigala, who became a citizen of the Dominican Republic in 2014, traveled between Spain, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Colombia, New York, and Miami to record these songs. Recruiting musicians from each of those musical epicenters, El Cigala explored the salsa canon while working to stretch it with stylistic brio. He returns to Durham, this time with a ten-piece band, investing this material with even more energy. El Cigala and his band pull together the sounds and sources of the world's foremost centers of tropical music.