Concerts

Diego el Cigala's New Documentary Reminisces About Old-School Salsa

Diego el Cigala
Diego el Cigala Photo by Anya Bartels-Suermondt
There's something nostalgic and pure about old-school salsa that no contemporary musical genre has been able to duplicate, but Spanish flamenco artist Diego el Cigala has reimagined the classic salsa sound in a new documentary, Indestructible: The Soul of Salsa.

The film will be available digitally and on-demand November 6 via the Orchard and Sony Music Latin. It's an intimate look at Cigala's relationship with salsa music, its roots, and interviews with some of the world's greatest salsa legends.

Cigala is set to perform at the Fillmore Miami Beach November 9 to celebrate the film's release. A red-carpet event will precede the concert.

The film follows Cigala on a journey from Colombia to New York via Havana, San Juan, Santo Domingo, and Miami. Along the way, he reconnects and jams with musicians associated with Fania Records, the groundbreaking record label that signed greats such as Celia Cruz and Hector Lavoe.

Cigala credits his late wife for the vision of this project and says salsa is the genre that seamlessly fused with his signature flamenco style. A self-proclaimed gypsy, Cigala says salsa narratives that discuss life, love, and loss are what attracted him to salsa when he began to make music.

"Guaguánco, rumba, and flamenco share the same foundation. When a 5-year-old makes melodies with percussion, it's the same as a gypsy boy making melodies with his palms to make rhythm," Cigala says. "Flamenco is music that has a lot of rhythms, especially in tone and current sound."

Throughout the film, Cigala performs with greats such as Oscar D’Leon, pianists Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Larry Harlow, trumpeter Luis “Perico” Ortiz, and many of the original Fania studio musicians. Gathering such talent in one space to collaborate is part of the magic of the movie taking viewers on a personal and immersive journey to the place where salsa began.

For Cigala, it's about showing the full range of emotions, grit, and lifestyle that salsa so famously interprets. It's loved and revered by a range of cultures — from the mountains to the city to the slums — and Cigala shows how he and the other artists blend life and music harmoniously.

"Gypsies and Latinos have a fun way of expressing ourselves through music that is very similar," Cigala says. "Flamenco is nocturnal, it's street, it's sentimental, and it's joy. Salsa is the same. It's street and confrontational, it's nocturnal, and it's lyrics are just like flamenco's. We speak about heartbreak, disappointment, happiness, and shame. It's an honor to have this genre to express through, and it was always a dream and a goal that I wanted — to share my music through both."

Diego el Cigala. 8 p.m. Friday , November 9, at the Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; fillmoremb.com. Tickets cost $39 to $79 via livenation.com.
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Christian Portilla is passionate about people and her city. She covers community, culture, and lifestyle in Miami and abroad. Follow her work on roamfreewrites.com.