Having already established himself as one of the shining lights among contemporary flamenco vocalists, Diego El Cigala (The Prawn), in concert with the legendary Bebo Valdes, expanded his horizons with the hugely successful 2003 album, Lágrimas Negras, a collection blending a largely Cuban repertoire with a flavor of flamenco. It was a project which won him a Latin Grammy and no doubt whet his appetite. He followed up in 2008 with Das Lágrimas, then in 2010 expanded his horizons even further with Cigala & Tango, recorded live in Argentina.
Now released in September in the U.S., where it had previously been available only digitally, is the singer’s 2013 studio follow-up exploration of Argentinian music Romance de la Luna Tucumana. Dedicated to Valdes, the album won the Latin Grammy for Best Tango Album of 2013, although its repertoire is not limited to the tango.
El Cigala has the kind of gravelly voice that fairly reeks of hard living and sincerity, the kind of voice made for this music. The 11-song set highlights the singer backed mostly by guitarist Diego Garcia el Twanguero, bassist Yelsy Heredia, and percussionists José Luis Quintana Changuito and Isidro Suárez. Twanguero contributes some exciting solo work throughout. There is also an elegant trumpet solo from Antonio Machado on the album’s opening track—“La Canción de Las Simples Cosas.” Unfortunately this is his only appearance.
Other highlights include “Por Una Cabeza,” a duet with Argentinian singer Adriana Varela and a sweetly sensuous “Siempre Paris” in which the singer is paired with Twanguero. The title tune opens with a guitar allusion to the jazz classic “Caravan,” perhaps making a point about the Argentinian province of Tucumana, perhaps not. At the least it was a pleasant moment of recognition for this listener. The album ends with one of those Cole family duets from the grave: here El Cigala is joined by the late Mercedes Sosa on “Canción Para Un Niño En La Calle.”
Romance de la Luna Tucumana is an album that will please Latin music lovers, as well as those with eclectic tastes—given a chance, it may well find plenty of converts in a wider audience.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00BCCE3MQ,B00PUU0OI8]