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Concert Reviews

Diego El Cigala Pays Tribute to the Soul and Spirit of Salsa Music

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Diego El Cigala
Diego El Cigala

Diego El Cigala – Photo credit: Atael Weissman

“Diego Ramón Jiménez Salazar (born in Madrid, on December 27, 1968), known as El Cigala (Spanish for ‘Norway Lobster’, a popular crustacean in Spain), is a famous Romani Flamenco gypsy singer. As he himself has said, the nickname was given to him by three guitar players, Los Losada, for being very thin, not by Camarón de la Isla as commonly believed.” (source: wikipedia)

Diego El Cigala Presents Indestructible at Koerner Hall in Toronto

On the evening of March 24, 2018 Diego El Cigala made his third appearance at Koerner Hall, The Royal Conservatory in Toronto. El Cigala paid tribute to the soul and spirit of Salsa music with his recent project Indestructible. A sold-out concert (for the third time), El Cigala gave his audience a magnificent performance, in spite of some technical difficulties with the sound that seemed to made the iconic Flamenco singer a bit impatient at times. A very tight and stellar band was backing El Cigala, projecting a potent, exciting sound that made it almost impossible to stand still in our seats. This was hardcore Caribbean, Afro-Latin music, better known with the popular term of Salsa, inflected with the new flamenco sound of one of the greatest “cantaores” that Spain has produced.

El Cigala interpreted some iconic tunes, which he re-invented on his album Indestructible. Those songs were big hits that came out of New York at the height of the Salsa movement, a socio-cultural expression that united Latinos all over the world. Moreno Soy, Juanito Alimaña, El Paso de Encarnación, Periódico de Ayer, El Ratón, Hacha y Machete resonated greatly with a multi-cultural audience that enjoyed and appreciated El Cigala’s artistry. He also revisited songs from his celebrated, multi-awards winning album Lágrimas Negras. His interpretations of Corazón Loco and Lágrimas Negras didn’t fail to touch the audience deeply, as well as the intimate renditions of Te Quiero, Te Quiero,  Concavo y Convexo, Soledad and Como Fué, accompanied only with the magnificent piano performance of Jaime Calabuch.

To end the evening, El Cigala engaged in an arousing interpretation of Indestructible, a smashing hit and a true anthem for Latinos recorded by legendary percussionist and band leader Ray Barretto in 1973.

Diego El Cigala, vocals
Jaime Calabuch, piano
Cristian David Muñoz, trumpet
Edinson Muñoz, trumpet
Richard Stella, trombone
Bernardo Aguirre, trombone
Denilson Ibarguen, percussion
Diego Mayorga, timbale
Julio Valdés, bass
Diego Galindo, vocals
Andrés Gonzales, vocals

Photos of Diego El Cigala by Atael Weissman (click on thumbnails to enlarge)

Founder, Editor, Webmaster: Latin Jazz Network, World Music Report, That Canadian Magazine. A passionate and committed communicator with a sensibility for the arts based in Toronto, Canada.

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Concert Reviews

Hilario Durán and David Virelles at Koerner Hall in Toronto

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On Thursday, October 13, 2022, representing two generations of Cuban Piano Masters, Hilario Durán and David Virelles got together at Koerner Hall, one of the most magnificent concert venues in Toronto. They were celebrating the release (in Canada) of their new recording Front Street Duets (Alma Records), a project they started working on at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Hilario Durán and David Virelles at Koerner Hall in Toronto
Hilario Durán and David Virelles at Koerner Hall in Toronto

Both artists were extremely happy of releasing their duet album after these past two years of the unimaginable worldwide health crisis. They were also excited to be in Toronto, and for being able to accommodate their busy schedules to perform their music in front of a very enthusiastic audience. Durán and Virelles expressed their utmost respect and admiration for each other. David from an early age considered Hilario as one of his musical heroes, a musical giant and influential figure in Cuba, in Canada and abroad. Hilario considers David as one of the most important Cuban pianist of his generation, a big star shining globally, from the highly competitive musical scene in New York.

Hilario Durán and David Virelles at Koerner Hall in Toronto

The concert got started started with Epistrophy, the first tune copyrighted by Thelonious Monk, followed by Sophisticated Lady / In A Sentimental Mood, two compositions by Duke Ellington. Next, Durán and Virelles performed four tunes from their new album: 1. Danza Lucumí, (beautifully arranged by Virelles), a song written by Alejandro García Caturla, a Cuban composer who together with Amadeo Roldán, are considered the leaders of Afro-cubanismo, a nationalist musical trend that incorporates Afro-Cuban songs, rhythms, and dances. 2. Challenge, a new composition by Durán. 3. La Malanga (also arranged by Virelles), a composition by Calixto Varona, one of the most important composers from Santiago de Cuba from the XIX century. 4. Guajira For Two Pianos, the first track on the album Front Street Duet, a fiery composition written by Durán.

Hilario Durán and David Virelles at Koerner Hall in Toronto

The first set came to an end with Airegin (an anadrome of Nigeria), a jazz standard composed by American saxophonist Sonny Rollins in 1954.

The second part of the concert started with a solo performance by David Virelles, Canción Estudio, composed by José Antonio “Ñico” Rojas, a prominent Cuban composer and guitarist, considered as one of the founders of the style of Cuban song called filin. Then it was Durán’s turn for an inspired solo performance of Autumn Nocturne (a notable composition written by Russian-born Josef Myrow with Kim Gannon). Durán had previously recorded this tune on his 1999 Justin Time Records release Habana Nocturna, a superb album that feature acclaimed saxophonist, flautist and bandleader Jane Bunnett, and drummer extraordinaire Horacio “El Negro” Hernández.

Hilario Durán and David Virelles at Koerner Hall in Toronto

Next, both pianists performed a set of four pieces written by Hilario Durán for the recording Front Street Duets. 1. David’s Tumbao, a composition dedicated to David Virelles. Durán is well known for his fiery tumbao style when he’s playing. 2. Punto Cubano #1, inspired on the genre of Cuban music known as punto guajiro or punto cubano, a poetic art with music that became popular in the western and central regions of Cuba in the 17th century and consolidated as a genre in the 18th century. 3. Santos Suárez’s Memories pays tribute to the Havana neighbourhood where Durán grew up, where he fell in love with the piano and became a musician. It brings back cherished memories involving his upbringing, his family and close friends. 4. Milonga For Cuba, a very special tribute dedicated to the people who protested in Havana last summer 2021.

Hilario Durán and David Virelles at Koerner Hall in Toronto

For the encore, Durán and Virelles interpreted a wonderful rendition of Body And Soul, a popular song and jazz standard written in 1930 with music by Johnny Green and lyrics by Edward Heyman, Robert Sour and Frank Eyton. Body and Soul is the track that closes the album Front Street Duets, and also brought to an end a tremendous musical night at Koerner Hall in Toronto.

Photographs by Danilo Navas

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