Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Artist Profiles: Efrén López

Efrén López

Efrén López was born in Manises, Spain in 1972. He is one of the founders of L’Ham de Foc. After collaborating in a wide number of musical projects as a guitarist, he started getting into traditional music. As a session musician he has recorded in more than forty different projects of various musical styles: early music (Capella de Ministrers, Aman Aman, Oc, Maria Laffitte, etc.), folk (Sabir, Malaguero, Cendraires, Al Tall, El Cau del Llop, etc.).

Little by little, he moved away from the guitar to focus mainly on Mediterranean double-string instruments and Medieval music. With this type of instruments he has done works for advertising, documentaries, short films, poetry readings, puppet shows, street theatre, and intensive courses.

He has done artistic productions for various bands and singer-songwriters. He has studied hurdy-gurdy through intensive courses with Pascal Lefeuvre, Maurizzio Martinotti and Nigel Eaton. North Indian music with Krishna Mohann Batt and Ajoy Chakrabakti, sitar with Sazed Ul Alam, rabab and music from Afghanistan with Daud Khan and Ustad Mohammed Rahim Khushnawaz, ud with Necati Celik and Yurdal Tokcan, and saz with the Crete based Irish musician Ross Daly and the Turkish masters Erol Parlak and Mehmet Erenler.

Efrén combined his activities with L’Ham de Foc with the early music band Capella de Ministrers, with whom he has performed throughout Spain, Italy, France, Morocco, Egypt, Croatia, Portugal, and has recorded several albums, including Trobadors, Llibre Vermell Montserrat, Lamento di Tristano, Misteri d’Elx and Cancionero de Palacio.

Discography:

Trobadors
Llibre Vermell Montserrat
Lamento di Tristano
Misteri d’Elx
Cancionero de Palacio
Mavra Froudia ‎(Musiépoca, 2011)
El Fill Del Llop ‎(Buda Musique, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: Eduardo Niebla

Eduardo Niebla

Spanish, born in Tangiers of Spanish parents from Andalusia on the 29th July 1955, Eduardo is the seventh son in a family of eleven, nearly all of whom are talented artists or musicians. Two of them, his brothers Jose (a painter) and Salvador (a drummer) along with Eduardo, are Internationally acclaimed and respected artists.

Niebla’s first musical encounter was with his brother’s accordion at the age of five. Three years later, his older brother Antonio gave him his first guitar. By this time the family had moved to Gerona in the Northeast of Spain.

At the age of eleven Eduardo formed his first folk/pop band Los Helios. They regularly performed in schools. In addition he made radio appearances with his sister Pilar, featuring poetry reading with flamenco guitar accompaniment. In 1966, Niebla with his brother Felix (double bass) and Salvador (drums and percussion) formed the Guevara Group. They appeared at many concerts and folk festivals throughout Catalonia.

In 1968, as a member of the new band Metafora, Eduardo had his first taste of electronic music, inspired by the works of Jimi Hendrix. They also performed in concerts and festivals throughout Spain. In 1973 he turned professional and founded the progressive symphonic rock band Atila. In addition to touring, they produced three hugely successful albums: The Beginning of the End (New Promotions), Intentions (BASF) and Reviure (EMI Odeon), composed and arranged by himself.

In 1975 Atila toured France, taking part in several exhibitions of conceptual art with the Spanish painter Jaume Xifra. Eduardo also composed, arranged and played music for the Arab Theatre of Paris. In Spain, Atila were appearing regularly at every major music festival in the country. In addition to winning various prizes and having many television appearances, they were voted one of the best groups of 1974-75 by both the Spanish public and music critics. Eduardo was voted among the seventh best guitarists in the Iberian peninsula. Atila albums are now collectors’ items.

In 1976 Eduardo became interested for the first time in performing in a duet form working with jazz guitarist Carlos Gonzalez in Seville. The duo composed pieces inspired by the works of Wes Montgomery. In 1978, Eduardo went to London and first appeared on the music scene as a studio session player.

By 1980, he had become a member of the group Mother Gong, with whom he recorded the album Fairy Tale. In the same year he was invited to Ronnie Scott’s Club to perform in a duet with free-jazz saxophonist Lol Coxhill; since then they have played together on several occasions.

In 1981 Eduardo broadened his musical horizons and composed orchestral works for films and documentaries like Active Birth, RD Laing, Pablo Neruda (Madd Knipp Productions), El Gato y la Paloma (Alan Productions) etc. He also appeared as a guest artist with the writers and poets Fran Landesman, John Cooper Clarke and Mike Horovitz on various occasions. In the same year he formed a new band under his own name.

He wrote and arranged the music for their album Towards the Sun. The members of the band were both classical and jazz musicians: Salvador Niebla (drums and percussion), Judy Garratt (violin, Boston Pop Orchestra), Dennis Milner (double bass, London Philharmonic), Mark Lorraine (French horn, New York Philharmonic Orchestra), Lol Coxhill (Saxophone), Didier Malerve (Flute -Gong), Lyn Dobson (saxophone and flute ex Soft Machine) John Mackenzie (electric bass), Elise Lorraine (vocals) and Zandy Gordon (Keyboards).

In 1981, he also collaborated with the group Tapstep. In the following year, 1982, he worked with many musicians in the jazz arena with his own Niebla Quartet.

It was in 1983 that he started the very successful Eduardo Niebla Guitar Duo. In this format he found a much more prominent vehicle for his guitar expertise. Some of the releases include Light and Shade, Eurotour, Celebration, Music Without Frontiers, Poema, etc. The act was repeatedly
acclaimed the best guitar duo on the European circuit. Some of his accompanists include Bob Grant, Emilio Maya, Antonio Forcione, Pepe Justicia., Michele Cea, Dominic Grant, Victor Unukovsky, Mark Johns, Giorgio Serci.

The Eduardo Niebla Guitar Duo appeared at every major concert venue in England, Wales and Scotland as well as at every major guitar jazz festival. In London they have performed at the Barbican and the South Bank Centres, the Wigmore Hall, the Bloomsbury Theatre and the Richmond Theatre as well as the Fairfield Halls in Croydon. They also appeared at the Wembley Arena where they were guests on the Barclay James Harvest European Tour in 1983 which took them to all major European cities. The duo tours Europe every year and has made many television appearances both on regional and national television in these countries. In 1990 at the San Isidro Fiesta in Madrid, they played at the Rockodromo Arena at the close of the ceremony to an audience of 35,000 people.

Eduardo toured South Africa, performing solo concerts with great success. He took the opportunity to do some research on the music of local tribes, which inspired him to write many new compositions. The same year the Eduardo Niebla Guitar DuoO had a new recruit: Russian jazz guitarist Victor Unukovsky. This collaboration led to the recording I Can Fly Now CD (1996). In January Eduardo met the Arab ud player from Palestine Adel Salameh. Their collaboration resulted in many international appearances at concert halls and festivals. Their work can be heard on the recording Mediterraneo CD (1996).

In August 1996 the Eduardo Niebla Live! (with Wajahat Khan on sarod and Sukhvinder Singh on tablas) had a very successful tour in Spain, culminating in a new recording Magic Nights (1996). He also toured Britain with Adel Salameh, receiving very positive and warm responses. In 1997, Eduardo teamed up with gypsy singer and percussionist Paban Dasbaul, recording a set of very beautiful and traditional Indian gypsy songs, arranged and produced by himself. In the same year he recorded duets for guitar and Indian bamboo flute, featuring Deepak Ram. He also met Indian sitar virtuoso, Purvayan Chattergee, culminating in a set of new compositions and recordings.

In 1998, Eduardo Niebla Guitar Duo undertook a very intense and successful tour of Europe, presenting an electrifying program of his compositions featured on his new CD. Concert after concert he left audiences spellbound, and repeatedly received standing ovations. In the same year he also started THE EDUARDO NIEBLA EXPERIENCE, comprising tabla player (Sanjay Jhalla) and guitar accompanist, Giorgio Serci. Concerts followed in Spain and in the UK. 1999 has brought further intensive touring in Europe and Ireland as well as the UK – followed by the release of his latest CD “The Gift” this September.

Eduardo has also produced recordings for many other musicians and collaborated in countless productions that have encompassed the whole spectrum of musical styles. Artists include Belinda Carlisle, Tom Newman, Gary Grant, The Sailors and George Michael to name but a few. After all these years of dedication to composing, arranging and performing music distributed world-wide, Eduardo Niebla has now achieved international recognition for his expertise and creativity on the guitar.

Discography:

Towards the Sun (1981)
Light and Shade, with Antonio Forcione (Sol International Records, 1984)
Eurotour, with Antonio Forcione (Sol International Records, 1985)
Celebration, with Antonio Forcione (Venture, 1987)
Music Without Frontiers, with Antonio Forcione (1987)
The Alexander Project, with A. Foulcer (1988)
Sequence for Guitar (1990)
Work for Three Arts (1991)
Spanish Projects (1992)
The Sailors (1992)
Poema, with Antonio Forcione (Jazzpoint Records, 1992)
Breathing (1993)
I Can Fly Now (Sol International Records, 1996)
Magic Nights (1996)
Mediterraneo, with Adel Salameh (1996)
The Gift (LMR Records, 1999)
Natural ( LMR Records, 2003)
Lights from the Inner Side (LMR Records, 2004)
My Gypsy Waltz (LMR Records, 2010)

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Artist Profiles: Ea!


Ea!

‘EA!’s individual character may be attributed to the fact that the band grew out of a group of people who made a conscious decision to live a simple life close to nature in the remote regions of the Sierra Nevada – far from the turbulence of today’s big cities. ‘EA!’s sound was born in Las Alpujarras and nurtured in the waters of Cádiz. It draws as much from Mediterranean sources as from those of the Atlantic.

Pilar La Mónica (originally from the Spanish city of Cádiz) and guitarist Juan José Madrera had been living this withdrawn life for some years, when at a large celebration held by their friends they found themselves providing the music. Their spontaneous guest appearance met not only with the very vocal approval of the party-goers, but also brought immediate invitations to other events.

The pair soon called on the services of a dancer and a second guitarist and the original line-up of ‘EA!’ was born. In 1994, when recording a CD in Almería, the band met and got to know the guitarist Iván Vallejo, who at that time was playing in the Spanish crossover group Planeta Fritanga. He and his younger brother Nacho, a flutist, soon joined ‘EA!’

Shortly thereafter, the group moved to Madrid, where percussionist Carlos Rey joined the troupe. On Agüita (pronounced ah-gweeta), ‘EA!’ is joined by a number of guest musicians who add a myriad of world music sounds to the album. Darbuka, congas, cow bells, and bouzouki combine with traditional Flamenco instruments, creating a colorful and exciting musical experience.

In 2004, the band started its own label, Eamusica.

Discography:

Oripandó (Big Bang/Tinder Records, 1996)
Agüita (Nubenegra, 1999)
La vida (Gran Via, 2002)
Un sentir (Warner Music, 2004)
Universo (Eamusica, 2008)
Anda Luz (Eamusica, 2017)

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Artist Profiles: Duquende

Duquende

Juan Rafael Cortes Santiago, beter known as Duquende, is a talented cantaor born in Sabadell, Spain in 1965. At an early age, he attracted the attention of guitarist Tomatito. Since then, Tomatito took care and polished the style of Duquende and produced Duquende’s first album, together with Juan Carmona (member of the band Ketama).

When he was only 9 years old he sung for the legendary singer Camarón de la Isla just before one of his concerts, and Camarón was very impressed by the talent of this kid. He then invited Duquende to join him and that was Duquende’s first appearance on stage, while Camarón played the guitar. Since then, he has worked with the late Manzanita, Juan Carmona, Juan Manuel Cañizares, Juan Habichuela, Moraito Chico and Vicente Amigo.

Duquende was the first cantaor who was invited to perform at the Champs Elysees theatre in Paris (1995).

Duquende sings the traditional flamenco styles, adding a personal touch and modern arrangements. He has mentioned some of the older cantaores, Mojama, Talega, and Borrico, as his main influences.

His 2006 CD, Mi forma de vivir, was produced by Duquende himself. Three top Flamenco guitarists, Tomatito, Niño Josele and Chicuelo, as well as bassist Carles Benavent collaborated on the recording.

Discography:

Soy el duende (Divucsa, 1988)
A mi aire (Divucsa, 1989)
Duquende con Manzanita (Divucsa, 1990)
Duquende y la guitarra de Tomatito (Nuevos Medios, 1993)
Samaruco (Universal, 2000)
Mi forma de vivir (K-Industria, 2005)
Qawwali Flamenco (Accords Croisés, 2006)
Mi forma de vivir (2006)
Live in Cirque d´Hiver – París (Flamenco Producción, 2007)
Rompecabezas (2012)

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Artist Profiles: Domingo Rodriguez “El Colorao”

Domingo Rodriguez “El Colorao” – Photo by DH

Domingo Rodríguez Oramas, nicknamed “El Colorao” was born 1964 in la Vega de Tetir, in the island of Fuerteventura (Canary Islands, Spain). He grew up in a family of musicians that taught him the islands’ folk traditions.

In 1985 he traveled to Paris to learn classical guitar with Canary Islander maestro Blas Sánchez. He later attended guitar courses in Madrid. In 1990 he returned to the Canary Islands, where he began teaching music. Two years later, in 1992, he focused his professional career to the study of the small guitar called timple. He performed throughout the islands, the Spanish mainland and overseas.

He has three recordings: El timple (1995), Timpliando (1999) and Aulaga (2003).

He currently combines his career as a performer with his work as a timple music teacher at the Escuela Insular de Musica del Cabildo Insular de Fuerteventura and teaching timple courses throughout the islands.

Discography:

El timple (1995)
Timpliando (1999)
Aulaga (Colorado Producciones, 2003)

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Artist Profiles: Dolores La Agujeta

Dolores La Agujeta

Dolores Agujeta is the granddaughter of old Agujetas, an extraordinary flamenco singer that was not a professional performer. He was a blacksmith by trade and a faithful follower of the school of Manuel Torrres, Marrurro, Mojama, Ramirez, Farrabú, Carapiera, among others. It was his son, Manuel de los Santos Pastor “El Agujetas,” who continued and expanded with his style and enormous personality. Today, Dolores Agujetas continues forging the tradition. Hers is a younger voice full of echoes and old memories.

Dolores de los Santos Bermúdez, better known as Dolores Agujetas, was born in Jerez on May 12 of 1960. From a very young age she learned the expressive language of her ancestry within her family of renowned flamenco singers, although her elders did not approve of a woman devoted to singing in public. For that reason she didn’t get on a stage until she was 30 years old.

Her first public performance in 1991, accompanied by guitarist Manuel Parrilla, Juan de la Plata, received rave reviews by the specialized press. From that point she became one of the best performers of her genre.

Dolores Agujetas carries the spirit of flamenco in her veins. Her genes proclaim her daughter of the flamenco spirit, heiress of the pain, of the cry and of the purest sorrow that are found in cante jondo (deep song).

Her voice is a cry for life, the anxiety of the scream turned to harmony, abandonment and the feeling of being a Gypsy. It’s a laceration of old ancestral echoes, wrapped in grief and centuries of persecution.

When Dolores sings, her whole body vibrates and her whole being becomes sound. Her music is an encounter with her ancestors, clamoring for so much grief planted by a people that wants to continue singing. To see this daughter of the flamenco spirit is another drama.

Dolores is the daughter of the darkest and most beautiful flamenco spirit, of the song of those Gypsies that traveled the world, alone with their pain and with their tears. Dolores belongs to the most unusual breed of flamencos geniuses. On her first CD she provides a small sample of authentic love for the songs of her people, sometimes expressed with true rage and bitter mourning.

Her singing is full of substance, touched by the flamenco spirit that she carries in her Gypsy soul from Jerez because Dolores has learned and knows deeply the secrets of deep flamenco singing [cante jondo]. A unique way of singing, inherited from their family, that she reveals, only from time to time, to the true initiatesto the exact rite and the soundest abandonment. Dolores Agujeta, daughter of the flamenco spirit, opens her heart for the first time, surrendering herself in body and soul through her best songs.

In 2009 she released the album “Mujerez” (a mix of words: mujeres = women and Jerez) with Juana la del Pipa, Dolores Agujetas andy La Macanita featuring Moraíto and Dieguito Agujetas on guitar.

Vivo, released in 2012, was a live album recorded at Peña Flamenca la Bujería during the Festival Internacional de Flamenco de Jerez. She was accompanied by her son, Agujetas Chico on guitar.

Original biography by Juan de la Plata. Expanded and edited by Angel Romero

Discography:

Hija del Duende (Fonoruz, 2000)
Dolores la Agujeta y Parrilla de Jerez (Bujío Producciones, 2004)
Mujerez, with Juana la del Pipa and La Macanita (Bujío Producciones, 2009)
Vivo (2012)
Agujeta Cantaora, with Manuel Parrilla (2016)

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Artist Profiles: Doa

Doa

Doa was formed in Coruña in 1978 by Bernardo Martinez (flute and percussion), Xoan Piñón (guitar, lute and mandolin) and Enrique Ferreira (cello) accompanying Xose Quintas Canella (vocals, zanfona [hurdy gurdy]). Later, additional musicians were added: Miro Casabella (vocals, zither and zanfona), Xaquin Blanco (gaita [bagpipe] and flute) and Carlos Castro (percussion, vibraphone, keyboards)

The group went through various changes in line-up. Some of the musicians who appeared in recordings and live concerts included: Baldo Martinez, Pepe Bordallo, Javier Jurado, Alfonso Moran, Nora McEvoy, Francisco Luengo, Manuel Varela, Luciano Perez, Xavier Cedron, Roberto Grandal, Javier Ferreiro, etc.

Doa is regarded as a reference in Galicia’s eclectic instrumental music scene prior to the 1980s.

The group’s musical style during its first stage was based in combining several musical influences with Medieval and traditional Galician music using free form arrangements and composing techniques. These characteristics marked Doa’s attitude throughout its history. Its philosophy is based in avoiding self-plagiarism and the repetition of musical formulas that guarantee immediate success, as well as avoiding market and record company pressures that exert too much influence in the musical style of a band.

Doa uses contemporary expression modes, improvisation as a work tool and the combination of traditional folk instruments (gaitas [bagpipes], zanfonas [hurdy gurdies], etc) with state-of-the-art technology (MIDIs, electronic instruments, etc).

Doa has carried out numerous tours throughout Galicia and the rest of Spain, as well as the United States and Canada exposing previously unknown songs from the The Way of St. James pilgrimage route [Camino de Santiago], the Cantigas de Santa Maria (Alfonso X El Sabio [Alfonso the 10th, the Learned]) and its own compositions based in Galician roots.

The band describes its philosophy in the manifest that appeared in its first recording O son da estrela escura:

“Finisterre [Land’s End], at the end of The Way of St. James [Camino de Santiago], is the Dark Star, the last star of the Milky Way. For many years, way before Christianity, it was a mysterious magnet that led many varied Indo-European peoples to Galicia. This was the seed for the development of a unique form of music, born out of magical motivations. This work is a small anthology of traditional pieces from various ages and roots. In its creation we started from music sheets found in different songbooks. We did not intend to do it in an orthodox way, but rather guided, in a subjective manner, by the sensibility that is found in this land.”

Doa’s first recording, “O son da estrela escura” was released in 1979 on the Ruada label. It was reissued in 2003 as part of Son de Galicia, released by La Voz de Galicia.

The second album, “Polaridade” came out in 1984 (Sociedad Fonografica Asturiana, Ion Producciones). It featured singer-songwriter Victor Manuel as vocalist and producer. It was reissued by Dos Acordes SL. in 2002 in digital format. An additional 500 pieces were donated to “Nunca Mais”. The Nunca Mais [Never Again] popular movement was formed in Spain in response to the Prestige oil tanker environmental disaster in 2002.

“Perfiles” was released in 1986 by Sociedad Fonografica Asturiana/Ion Producciones, featuring the vocals of yet another famous singer-songwriter, Amancio Prada.

Doa with Rosa Cedron

“Arboretum” came out in 2002 on Xingra producciones. The latest album up to now is “A fronda dos cervos” (2006) which includes Galician folk acts Rosa Cedron and Leilia.

Discography:

O son da estrela escura (Ruada, 1979)
Polaridade (Sociedad Fonografica Asturiana, 1984)
Perfiles (Sociedad Fonografica Asturiana, 1986)
Arboretum (Xingra Producciones, 2002)
A fronda dos cervos (Fol Musica, 2006)

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Artist Profiles: Diego Carrasco

Diego Carrasco – Photo by Mario Pacheco

Diego Carrasco Fernández was born in Jerez de la Frontera (Cádiz) in 1954. He studied flamenco guitar in Jerez de la Frontera with master player Rafael del Aguila. During his first phase as a professional musician Carrasco accompanied on the guitar some of the biggest flamenco singers in his home town, such as Tía Anica la Periñaca, Tío Gregorio El Borrico, Fernando Terremoto, Sernita de Jerez, etc.

During that period, Carrasco’s artistic name was “Tate de Jerez.” He also accompanied some of the leading dancers like Alejandro Vega and Antonio Gades. His interest in other musical styles led him to collaborate with rock singer Miguel Ríos, creating a fusion of Flamenco and rock. After that there were other collaborations, with guitarist Manolo Sanlúcar and the most important Flamenco singer of the late 20th century, Camarón de la Isla.

In 1984 Diego Carrasco gave a radical turn to his profession as a musician. The guitarist known as El Tate disappeared and in his place appeared flamenco singer Diego Carrasco. His activity as a composer and producer has been endless. He composed music for the ballets of Joaquín Cortés and produced a series of very reputable recordings, such as the one by his regular accompanist, guitarist Manuel Morao, and also a series of recordings by some of the finest Flamenco singing families from Jerez. Carrasco has continued his collaboration with Manolo Sanlúcar and with many other artists, mainly younger ones- like Navajita Plateá, Tino di Geraldo and Tomasito.

Diego Carrasco can only create in state of trance and, paradoxically, his knowledge about studio recording and new technologies helps him reach that point where the art form appears seemingly spontaneous and easy. To do this he has had the complicity of the composer and producer Jesús Bola, as well as in previous cases where producer Ricardo Pachón made decisive contributions.

On Inquilino Del Mundo, Diego deepened his interest in the basic beat of Flamenco and continued searching for a primordial and unreachable lament within the perfumes of Andalusian song. As usual, Manuel Morao was on guitar and also his son Diego del Morao, las Peligro and La Venta on backing vocals, the handclapping dervishes from Jerez, Chicharo, Rafa and Bo Soto and, in an even more evident way than previous occasions, the notable rhythmic base present in most Nuevo Flamenco recordings: bass master Carles Benavent and percussion wiz Tino di Geraldo together with flutist Jorge Pardo.

Discography:

Cantes y sueños (RCA, 1984)
Tomaquetoma (RCA, 1987)
Voz de referencia (Nuevos Medios, 1993)
A tiempo (Nuevos Medios, 1994)
Inquilino del Mundo (Nuevos Medios, 2000)
Mi ADN flamenco (Nuevos Medios, 2004)
Hippytano (Rumor Records, 2012)
No marrecojo (Nuevos Medios, 2017)

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Artist Profiles: Diego Amador

Diego Amador

Born in 1973 into one of the elite families of Seville’s Tres Mil Viviendas neighborhood, by the young age of 11, Diego Amador was already playing professionally and had mastered drums, guitar, piano, and bass, and possessed an unusually powerful voice.

He joined the revered flamenco rock band Pata Negra founded by his brothers Raimundo and Rafael. Now considered one of the few flamenco masters on the piano, he developed his own self-taught method and is able to adapt traditional guitar accompaniment formats to the keyboard, winning the admiration of his colleagues in the flamenco sphere.

He has also played with La Susi, Remedios Amaya and Joaquin Grilo and is a long-time member of Tomatito’s Sextet. Internationally, Amador has collaborated with artists such as Larry Coryell, Luis Salinas, Alex Acuna, Birelli Lagrene and Jerry Gonzalez.

As one of the most gifted musician-composers of the current flamenco scene, he remains very much rooted in the unique gypsy approach to rhythm and harmonic structure and is thus hailed as a provocative, innovative and creative force within flamenco’s evolution, combing flamenco, jazz and salsa.

His skills are showcased on his Nuevos Medios/Fantasy Records release Piano Jondo on which he plays practically every instrument. His genius and trademark magnetism or “duende” are also clearly reflected in live performances.

Discography:

Anticipo Flamenco (1992)
El Aire de lo Puro (Nuevos Medios, 2001)
Piano Jondo (Nuevos Medios/Fantasy Records, 2008)
Rio de los Canasteros (Nuevos Medios, 2010)
Jazz a L’EStudi (TVC Disc, 2011)
Flamenco Jazz Tribute Live in Paris (DA Records, 2013)
Scherzo Flamenco (Rumor TVE, 2013)
Soy de las 3000 (Alacran Records, 2016)

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Artist Profiles: Diego ‘El Cigala’

Diego ‘El Cigala’

‘El Cigala’ (the langostine or Norway lobster) is the nickname given by the Losada brothers to Diego Jimenez Salazar.

Cigala is a Gypsy singer-songwriter born in Madrid in 1968 and nephew of Rafael Farina. Since his childhood, he has been singing in his Madrid neighborhood of El Rastro (known for its large, popular flea market), later doing the same in the peñas (Flamenco fan clubs), and at the age of 12 he won a prize in the Gente Joven (Young People) competition and first prize in the Flamenco Joven (Young Flamenco) competition in Getafe (a city in Madrid’s southern metropolitan area).

He has accompanied such famous dancers as Cristóbal Reyes, Mario Maya, Manolete, Carmen Cortés, Guito, Farruco and Manuel Camacho. He has performed on records by Camarón, Paco Peña, Gerardo Núñez, Tomatito, and has worked with renowned musicians of the likes of Jorge Pardo, Carlos Benavent and Michel Camilo, to name but a few.

He has traveled the world over, visiting Iraq, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, United States and more.

In 1994, he embarked on his solo career accompanied by the guitarist Antón Jiménez and was chosen by the public of the Sala Revolver concert venue in Madrid as Best New Artist of the year.

In 1995, he shared the billing with Morente, Mercé and Parrita. In May of that year he released Undebel with the participation of David Amaya, Paquete, Parrita, J.M. Cortina, Bandolero, Chaboli and El Piraña.

El Cigala’s best known collaboration was the recording Lágrimas Negras with Cuban pianist Bebo Valdes. These two renowned performers, from two distinct disciplines, joined forces to create a third, powerful and distinctive musical language. Bebo Valdés was the pianist and composer arranger who helped shape Cuban music for the last 60 years. He was also the father of jazz phenomenon Chucho Valdés. Diego ‘El Cigala’ was the younger traditional soul-searching flamenco singer from Spain. They used boleros as their medium, Spanish as their language, and together they created Afro-Cuban influenced boleros with a distinct flamenco personality.

It was film director Fernando Trueba who had the idea of putting Bebo Valdés (85 at the time), and “El Cigala” (who was 35), together to record the all-time classic album and recreate songs such as “Lágrimas Negras”, “Corazon Loco”, “Se me olvidó que te olvidé” and “La bien pagá”.

Lágrimas Negras became an international best seller, with over 700.000 copies sold all over the world, 300.000 in Spain.

In 2006, El Cigala won the Latin Grammy Award for Best Flamenco Album with Picasso en Mis Ojos.

Diego ‘El Cigala’

He explored tango and flamenco in 2010’s Cigala & Tango and continued his interest in South American music with Romance de la luna Tucumana.

In 2014, Cigala recorded a live album as a tribute to Paco de Lucía with Diego del Morao on guitar.

In 2016 he released Sony Music Latin CD debut, Indestructible, an album where he explored the intersection of flamenco singing and classic 1970s salsa.

Discography:

Undebel (EMI, 1998)
Entre Vareta y Canasta (18 Chulos Records, 2000)
Corren Tiempos De Alegría Ariola (BMG Spain, 2001)
Teatro Real ‎(BMG Spain, 2002)
Blanco y Negro – En Vivo, live (Calle 54 Records, 2003)
Lágrimas Negras (Calle 54 Records, 2003)
Picasso En Mis Ojos (Sony BMG, 2005)
Dos Lágrimas (Edge Music, 2008)
Cigala & Tango (Cigala Music, 2010)
Romance De La Luna Tucumana (Cigala Music, 2013)
Vuelve El Flamenco – en vivo – Homenaje a Paco de Lucía (‎Cigala Music, 2014)
Indestructible (Sony Music Latin, 2016)

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