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Remembering Cigala’s Salsa Masterpiece Album: Indestructible



Diego El Cigala - Indestructible

In late October of 2016, the world looked forward to listening to one of the most awaited salsa albums in history, interpreted and produced by one of the most brilliant flamenco figures in the last few decades, Diego El Cigala.

A year and a half later, here we are, remembering this magical contribution to world music; the album Indestructible is a touching and unique work that combines the essential elements and rhythms of the salsa genre. Cigala achieves this unbelievable artistic interpretation level not only because of the participation of some of the most talented salsa musicians, but also because of his soul and passion for  universal music, the rooted musical expression.

One could say that the participation of more than 70 salsa and Latin stars guarantees the sound and success of this album, but there is more here than success and constellations; this is about roots and genes and soul. The core of this masterpiece is Cigala’s blood, the vital fluid that runs through his veins, moving Indian, Asian, Latin, Arabian, Caribbean, flamenco and tango poetic streams that go back and forth through each of the songs that make up this CD. This album has been labeled as salsa music, but in fact this work is about world music. You can find a great range of cultural spirits and expressions between the musical lines in each song.

There was no other better way to start this album than with the theme “Moreno Soy” (Black I am), a catchy and profound syncopated song that invites you to clap, tap and dance. A timbal fast sound and powerful trumpet and saxophone lines introduce the sentimental and incomparable voice of Cigala who tells the listeners about the theme of being raised as a black person and that at the core of our hearts we are all black. The color of Cigala’s voice is so impressive that it could symbolize the voice tone of any indigenous singer in any culture around the world, and yet his particular pitch is unique to only him. His pitch is low and high at the same time, his sound is husky and dark, but clear and touching too. After singing the main lines of “Moreno soy”, the descarga arrives to stay with the dancer, accompanied by the incredible “pregón” of Cigala. The mastery of this Spanish vocalist goes beyond any comparisons that can be made to the legends of international Afro Latin music. This is demonstrated in the last part of “Moreno soy” where he dialogues in a sublime and rhythmical way with the brass lines, spreading indescribable sentimental pregones, that create a perfect symbiosis with the rest of the orchestra.

Indestructible was the result of a fascinating journey to several salsa capitals including Cali (Colombia), San Juan (Puerto Rico), La Habana (Cuba), Punta Cana (Dominican Republic), New York and Miami (the United States), where he recorded part of this album. His final musical destination was Jeréz de la Frontera, in Spain where he added the flamenco touch including guitars, choruses, a cajón and flamenco hand clapping.

One year later after the album was released, the documentary Indestructible, el alma de la salsa (The Soul of Salsa) with almost the same name, was presented to the world, with images that demonstrated how this incomparable album project was conceived and developed. The world was astonished by the feeling and passion that Afro latin music legends showed on the screen. To have musicians like Oscar D’Leon, Bobby Valentin, Larry Harlow, Roberto Roena, Eddie Montalvo, Nicky Marrero, Jorge Santana, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, Luis Perico Ortiz, Horacio el Negro, José Aguirre and Diego del Morao, interacting and playing with Diego el Cigala, is truly a reflection of a new art world wonder. As the protagonist says in this documentary “esos genios fueron la salsa y serán la salsa por siempre, porque la salsa es indestructible” (those geniuses were and will be salsa forever because salsa is indestructible).

Track list: 1. Moreno Soy; 2. Juanito Alimaña; 3. Conversación en tiempo de bolero (con Gonzalo Rubalcaba); 4. El paso de Encarnación (con Óscar D’León); 5. Periódico de ayer; 6. Fiesta para Bebo (con Los Muñequitos de Matanzas); 7. Se nos rompió el amor; 8. Indestructible; 9. El ratón; 10. Hacha y machete; 11. Cómo fue (con Gonzalo Rubalcaba)

Producers: Ramón Jiménez and Jaime Calabuch “Jumitus”
Musical Direction: Jaime Calabuch “Jumitus”

Released – 2016
Label – Sony Music Spain
Runtime – 51:00

Oscar graduated in journalism and education in Colombia, and completed a postgraduate program in Creative Writing in Canada. He works as an English teacher, translator and freelance writer in Bogotá. Oscar is a music collector, explorer and promoter of World Music and Jazz.

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Featured Albums

Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá



Roberto Jr. Vizcaino, Adrien Brandeis, Roberto Vizcaino Guillot - Photo Nayeli Mejia
Roberto Vizcaíno Jr., Adrien Brandeis, Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot - Photo: Nayeli Mejia.

Listening to the music of Siempre Más Allá, it certainly seems that the young French pianist, Adrien Brandeis has strengthened the belief that he is a proverbial citizen of the Afro-Caribbean universe. To be clear Mr Brandeis still loves all music and swings as hard as any pianist who loves Black American Music – that is, music that you can sing and dance to. But also continues to be beguiled by the rolling thunder of Afro-Caribbean music. The wild call of the rhythms and the joie de vivre of the questing melodies and harmonies not only appeal to his ear, but also speak to him in the hidden parts of his heart.

By his own admission Siempre Más Allá took root during three tours to Mexico undertaken under the aegis of the Fédération des Alliances Françaises du Mexique. The virtually all-Afro-Cuban repertoire of the album radiates charm at every turn. These disarmingly natural and eloquent performances bring out the music’s inherent drama and penchant for tumbao with a deft touch while indulging Brandeis’ lyrical instincts to the full. Meticulously balanced, the four quartet pieces, the trio and duo pieces feel as if they are chamber works. Brandeis’ astonishingly insightful playing is musically captivating and technically blemishless. Each phrase rings so completely true that one can’t imagine the music played any other way.

Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá
Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá

The album features Mr Brandeis and a group of very accomplished musicians. These include the celebrated Cuban percussionist Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot [on two tracks] and his son Roberto Vizcaíno Jr., Mexican drummer José Loria Triay make up the wall of percussion. The Brasilian bassist Giliard Lopes brings his distinctive veritas to the whole rhythm section. The big surprise here is, perhaps, the presence of the great Cuban Horacio “El Negro” Hernández sitting in the drum chair on La buena vibra.

Siempre Más Allá is an affirmation of Brandeis’ enduring love and natural affinity for Latin music. Not surprisingly the music seems to echo the famous Latin American phrase: “¡Que rico bailo yo!” [which, in English, exclaims: “How well I dance!”]. This is no hyperbole as the music – in its pulses and rhythms show as Brandeis traverses the rhythmic topography of the Caribbean and Latin America. Along the way Brandeis plunged into the world of changüí, the chacarera, Brasilian gaucho music and the ancient melodic thunder of bàtá drums.

From the get-go listeners will find themselves immersed in quite another world of rippling percussive grooves. The track Ek Bakam, for instance, conjures the intricate architecture; the line and flow of an epic Mayan civilisation located in the Yucatan. Narratives from the Latin world abound – often paying homage to famous traditional musicians. Pancho’s Power is one such chart inspired by the vivid world of the legendary trio Los Panchos. Brandeis gives his percussion section a lot of space when he puts the spotlight on them on Tierra de Oportunidades – a wistful memory of the pianist’s three tours to Mexico, which is also incidentally the popular provincial slogan of the Mexican state of Guanajuato. On Huachi-Huachi Brandeis digs deep into the epicurean delights of the only Latin country in North America with this song in praise of a kind of gourmet Mexican fish: the huachinango.

Brandeis then celebrates his association with percussion colourist Roberto Vizcaíno Jr. with the extraordinary music of Vizcaíno Blues, a piece unique with its exploratory chromaticisms and elegant sonorities that beautifully capture the eloquence of the percussionist in whose praise the music is written. Mindful of the fact that Vizcaíno is Cuban but makes his home in Mexico, Brandeis shapes the rhythmic and harmonic palette of the piece accordingly. On La Buena Vibra Brandeis delivers astonishing pianistic fireworks in the piece’s melodic and harmonic lines, played at a frenetic pace, to mirror the style of its dedicatee, Michel Camilo. The pianist demonstrates an authentic home-grown grasp of Cuban music as he reimages Voy a Apagar la Luz, by the legendary and late-singer Armando Manzanero, here adapted as a wistful solo piano work. Meanwhile on the dizzying ride of Humpty Dumpty the pianist pays homage to another idol: Chick Corea, by revisiting the sparkling composition of the recently-deceased piano maestro.

It is hard not to be mesmerised by this spirited and finely nuanced music artfully crafted in an album by Adrien Brandeis, a pianist who is about to take the world by storm with a recording that is going to be one of the finest by any musician located outside the Latin American sub-continent.

Deo gratis…

Tracks – 1: Huachi Huachi; 2: Alegría; 3: Pancho’s Power; 4: Ek balam; 5: Un peu d’espoir; 6: Vizcaíno’s Blues; 7: Tierra de oportunidades; 8: Humpty Dumpty; 9: La buena vibra; 10: Voy a apagar la luz

Musicians – Adrien Brandeis: piano; Giliard Lopes: contrabass; José Loria Triay: drums; Roberto Vizcaíno Jr: congas and bàtá drums. Featuring Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot: percussion [1, 6]; Horacio “El Negro” Hernández: drums [9]

Released – 2022
Label – Mantodea Music Productions
Runtime – 58:25

YouTube Video – Adrien Brandeis – Siempre más allá (EPK)

YouTube Audio – Adrien Brandeis – Vizcaíno’s Blues

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