We are shocked and saddened to announce the death of the great Cuban conga player Miguel ‘Angá’ Díaz who died unexpectedly at his home in Barcelona on 9th August 2006, he was 45.
With his explosive soloing and inventive five conga patterns, Angá’ was widely regarded as one of the world’s great congueros. He was committed to the development of the conga drum, breaking down traditional percussion barriers to perform traditional latin rhythms, jazz, jungle and hip-hop, whilst retaining his distinctly Cuban roots.
Angá began playing prodigiously early, performing and recording professionally whilst still at college. He made his name as part of the pioneering Latin jazz group Irakere and it was with them he perfected his five drum technique. Emerging in the mid-nineties as an independent musician Angá was free to diversify and pursue a variety of different projects – from the experimental jazz of Steve Coleman and Roy Hargrove, to hip hop with Orishas, to his tours with Omar Sosa, and numerous side projects with musicians from all over the globe, Angá’s musical journey was a personal quest to explore and create new sounds and rhythmic fusions.
More than just a performer, Angá further demonstrated his commitment to the development of his instrument by teaching master classes at various schools and universities across North America and Europe. Angá produced a tuition video in 2000 which explained many of his techniques and his philosophy behind playing, it won Percussion Video of the Year from Drum Magazine. Angá would continue to teach on a regular basis and built up a network of students from his base outside of Barcelona.
Angá’s first project with World Circuit was the hugely influential Afro Cuban All Stars album recorded in 1996 which showcased the depth and vitality within Cuban music. Angá became an integral part of World Circuit’s extended Buena Vista family adding his trademark sound to albums from Rubén González, Ibrahim Ferrer, Omara Portuondo, Guajiro Mirabal, and the second Afro Cuban All Stars record. Angá’s own musical vision would emerge with the release of the album ‘Cachaíto’ an inspired union of Afro-Cuban jazz, reggae, hip hop and funk which he recorded with the Cuban bass legend Cachaíto López. Building from the foundations laid by Cachaíto’s record, and incorporating elements of his own Santeria religion, Angá would finally fulfil his dream in 2005 with the release of his critically acclaimed album ‘Echu Mingua’, an exciting fusion of styles blended together the ‘Cuban way’ and is a fitting testament to the career of one of the great musical innovators.
Angá was an irrepressible character with a larger than life personality, whose beaming grin and booming laugh were matched by a warmth and humility that touched all of those lucky enough to know him. He will be sorely missed.
Source: World Circuit
–Photo by Damian Rafferty of Miguel ‘Angá’ Díaz’s gig earlier this year at Barbican, London. More photos on Flykr—