The Caliente Column

Tiger Diaz: "Back On The Prowl"
By Doug Shannon (

For Albert "Tiger" Diaz, making a comeback in the nineties with his
new CD "Cambiame" means rebelling against the trends started by his
former group, La Sombra.  Tiger's sound is modern and urban, but it's
not techno or synthesized.

"We were looking for a variety of sounds," he said.  "It wasn't a
programmed album with drum machines.  We recorded live with different
rhythm sections.  It's what they call a street album.  It's not really
clean or pretty, but it sounds real.

"I think the style of cumbia is too cheesy.  People are writing cult
stuff, kind of like ['Cambiame' album cut] 'Baila Conmigo.'  It's
hard to write a serious cumbia because people are just out there to
dance to the beat."

Despite being only 27, Diaz is a veteran of the business.  He played
trumpet for La Sombra from 1984-89 and has cut five solo albums since
then.  Born in Port Lavaca, Texas, he's now a San Antonio resident.
"Cambiame" was recorded at Elephant Tracks Studios, where La
Diferenzia cut its latest CD.  However, Diaz says he found out
about the studio just by looking through the Yellow Pages.

"I had become frustrated with the local music scene," he revealed.
"It's like a machine--it's been running smoothly for years but I
think it's time for a change.  [Recording engineer] Joe Trevino has
worked with a lot of Tejano legends like the Tortilla Factory and
Flaco Jimenez.  I call it the underground onda.  Its reputation is
not so much from the studio itself as from the people who work there."

The liner notes for "Cambiame" contain some famous and surprising
names.  In addition to well-known onda musicians such as Chris
Perez, Chente Barrera, and Speedy Villanueva, San Antonio folk
group True Infidels played on Diaz's country tune, "Gonna Take You
In My Arms."

"Musicians in San Antonio seem to jump in and out of bands and it's
hard for a musician who's trying to make a living when the bands don't
get work some certain weekend."

"All of the musicians were good friends of mine and it's a pretty
tight-knit group.  Whenever you need a helping hand in the studio,
you can just get on the phone and call somebody and within 10 or 15
minutes they'll be there."

The first single off "Cambiame" is the title track, a ranchera
about a breakup between two people who have grown apart.

"'Cambiame' relates very closely to my actual situation," Diaz said,
"but that's another story."

Diaz was absent from the touring circuit during 1994 while he recorded
his new CD and worked out some tough situations in his own personal
life.  But in March he began fronting San Antonio's 5th Avenue Band,
a popular local group that plays some of Tiger's songs and a wide
variety of covers.