“My devotion to Latin music comes from before I met Bebo, I really liked salsa, listening to Antonio Machín, Beny Moré, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico. What I didn’t know was that he was going to end up making these albums,” says singer Diego El Cigala, laughing when remembering his album Lágrimas Negras, which he recorded more than 20 years ago with Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés.
That album already naturally mixed its flamenco roots with rhythms such as son and bolero. Some time later, he ventured into dance music with his salsa album Indestructible, which he recorded with guests such as the Cubans Gonzalo Rubalcaba, and Los Muñequitos from Matanzas and the Cali Salsa Big Band from Colombia. And now she throws herself into bolero.
In Masterpieces, which he presents live on a tour that began in July in Spain, has toured the United States and Canada, and which brings him to Mexico for two concerts, on November 21 and 23 at the La Maraka hall, El Cigala did his classics like Voy, by the Mexican composer Luis Demetrio.
That bolero that angrily warns “I’m going to wet my lips with holy water to wash away the kisses that your damned mouth once gave me,” is the first single from the album, whose repertoire, El Cigala says in an interview with El Sol de México, It took almost 20 years to cast and three in production.
There are 10 songs, among which are Oh honey, Without a love, Adore, Wait for me in the sky and Think of me.
“I started early to get to know Latin American music, from Mexico, Argentina, Cuba, that’s where my steps were from very early on. I have loved bolero since I was very young, when my father came home from the tablao, and he came with records by Lucho Gatica and others, he would start singing in the living room of the house. The bolero is sung like flamenco, for example Corazón loco, or Dos gardenias, they were done by bulerías, I listened to it since I was a child and it left me cold.”
DRUNK THE SOUL
As a performer, El Cigala waited patiently until his heart gave him the urge to sing boleros. “Since we had the first meeting with Bebo we started doing songs like Veinte años, and I felt super comfortable with the bolero, then I met my pianist Jaime Calabuch and there is no concert where I don’t sing it.”
El Cigala even took a risk with “one of the songs that have been covered the most, Adoro. You come to Japan for example and they know it, like in any country in the world, that was a bit of a challenge, to respect Armando Manzanero’s voice, but to have that Cigalera part. And I think we have achieved it,” he states without false modesty.
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“When I started to see on stage together with Bebo how the boleros filled me with happiness, it was wonderful, because before I had a lot of respect for them, for all the greats and geniuses they have left behind. We spent a year touring throughout Europe, we also arrived in the United States and it was for me like entering a magical world in which the world of flamenco enters the world of bolero.”
Even then, he confesses that he felt a certain shyness, despite being accompanied by the veteran Cuban pianist. “We did the tour for a year, but how was I going to sing something like Oh honey, which is a masterpiece? In this album I wanted to find the two terms of what love and heartbreak are, that’s why it starts with Oh honey and the single is Voy, which combines both its lyrics, its music, its melody; For me, the themes have to reach me and penetrate my soul and make me drunk with love and happiness, if not, there is no way to express it,” concludes the gypsy.