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.
Miguel 'Angá' Díaz (congas, percussion, composer, arranger)
1961: born Miguel Aurelio Díaz Zayas in San Juan y Martinez in the province of Pinar del Rio, Cuba, area known for its rumba traditions. Shares the nickname Angá with his father. Began playing prodigiously early
1971: attends the Escuela Nacional de Arte de Pinar del Rio. Begins formal percussion studies.
1975: scholarship to study classical percussion at the National School of Art in Havana.
Joins group Treceto de la ENA on the first day of college, and would perform with them for the remainder of his academic career.
Whilst at college is invited to record some film and TV soundtracks by the pianist Jose Maria Vitier, playing alongside his heroes conga master Tata Güines & drummer Guillermo Barretto
1978: Treceto de la ENA reform as Bus Trece (Opus 13), finishes college and begins his professional career with the band. Spends 9 years recording and touring internationally with Opus 13.
1987: joins Irakere - led by piano maestro Chucho Valdés; pioneers of Latin jazz in Cuba; hugely influential. Perfects his 5 conga technique
Spends 7 years recording and touring internationally with Irakere.
1994: starts career as freelance solo artist
Records 'Pasaporte' with Tata Güines (wins EGREM Album of the Year in 1995, the equivalent of a Cuban GRAMMY)
Teaches master classes, including the Stamford University summer workshops in California, and Banff University in Canada.
Sets up second base in Paris, divides time between Cuba and France.
Begins working with Steve Coleman - experimental US saxophonist
1996: joins Roy Hargrove - acclaimed US trumpeter; at Havana International Jazz Festival
Records 'Habana' (GRAMMY winner) with Roy Hargrove's Crisol
Joins Hargrove's touring band.
Records 'A Toda Cuba le Gusta' with Juan de Marcos' Afro-Cuban All Stars - cross generational album of Cuba's finest musicians; hugely important in late 90s Cuban music explosion.
1997: records 'Genesis & The Opening of the Way' with Steve Coleman
1998: on tour in Senegal & India with Coleman; records and performs with local musicians
1999: records 'Distinto Differente' with Afro-Cuban All Stars, and
Records 'The Sonic Records Language of Myth' with Steve Coleman & Five Elements.
Produces tuition video 'Anga Mania!' (wins DRUM Magazine Percussion Video of the Year 2000).
2000: records 'Chanchullo' with Rubén González (GRAMMY nominated)
Tours with Rubén González
Records 'a lo cubano'with Orishas - groundbreaking Cuban hip-hop group;
2001: key figure on Orlando 'Cachaíto' López - Cuban bass genius; Buena Vista stalwart - hugely experimental album 'Cachaíto' released on World Circuit.
Band leader on Cachaíto's critically acclaimed tours.
2003: moves to Barcelona
Records 'Buenos Hermanos' with Ibrahim Ferrer (GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY winner)
Records 'Mambo Sinuendo' with Ry Cooder & Manuel Galbán (GRAMMY winner)
2004: records 'Flor De Amor' with Omara Portuondo (GRAMMY nominated)
Records 'Buena Vista Social Club Presents...' with Guajiro Mirabal
Touring internationally with Omar Sosa - innovative Cuban pianist - as featured soloist.
2005: 'Echu Mingua' released on World Circuit
2006: takes 'Echu Mingua' tour on the road - dies August 9th in Barcelona.