Where flamenco meets jazz – Diego El Cigala comes to SFJAZZ


Official video for the song ‘Lágrimas Negras’ the self-titled album by Bebo Valdés and Diego El Cigala (Calle54 Records, 2003)

produced by Fernando Trueba, Javier Limón and Nat Chediak


SFJAZZ is the place to be for a fascinating convergence of cultures this week, as the Center hosts one of the top Spanish artistes of today – Diego El Cigala – remarkable for his ability to combine the drama of his native flamenco with the sounds and rhythms of Latin American jazz.

El Cigala was immersed in flamenco from his earliest days in Madrid, growing up in an artistic Romani family in a city which, during his youth, was the center of flamenco. His fame initially spread little further than the borders of Spain, but then came a number of CDs – including Undebel, his first solo recording, in 1994, Entre vareta y canasta in 2000, Corren tiempos de alegria in 2001, and a live recording, Directo en el Teatro Real, the following year.

It was in 2003, however, that Diego El Cigala rose to international fame. He collaborated on an album with legendary Cuban pianist, bandleader, composer and arranger, Bebo Valdés, and a collection of other esteemed Cuban musicians, to produce Lágrimas Negras, creating an unusual blend of sounds, with his gravelly-voiced, gypsy style of flamenco and the music of Cuba, Spain and Central and South America. Reaching double platinum sales figures, Lágrimas Negras won a Latin Grammy Award, prompting New York Times critic Ben Ratliff to declare it best album of the year, and describing it as “one of the great new cross-pollinating documents of Latin music”.

In 2005, El Cigala and Valdés released a DVD, Blanco y Negro, featuring a live performance in Mallorca – a behind-the-scenes look at the recording of the Blanco y Negro CD, and interviews with the musicians.  In the same year, he won another Latin Grammy, for the album Picasso en Mis Ojos, featuring the great flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía and Latin-jazz trumpeter and percussionist Jerry Gonzalez. El Cigala’s recent recording, Vuelve el Flamenco: Homenaje a Paco de Lucía, is a tribute to his late friend and collaborator, who referred to the flamenco singer as having “one of the most beautiful flamenco voices of our time, a voice of sweetness that flows over everything”.

El Cigala has recorded eight CDs to date, won two Grammy’s, and received five Latin Grammy nominations. On his new album, Indestructible, he turns his focus to salsa, an album which Billboard says “could be the salsa album of the year’, and from which he’ll be performing songs in his concerts at SFJAZZ this week.

Diego El Cigala appears in the Miner Auditorium from November 3 to 6, with Jaime ‘Yumitus’ Calabuch on piano, percussionist Isidro Suárez Navas, Yelsy Heredia Figueras on double bass, 
trombonists Richard Stella Prieto and Leo Aguirre Ocampo, and vocalists Diego Armando Giraldo Castillo and Giovanni Betancourt Ruiz.

For more information and tickets, visit the SFJAZZ website



Diego El Cigala

Bebo Valdés

Paco de Lucia

Jerry Gonzalez



SFJAZZ program notes



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