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Buena Vista Social Club At Carnegie Hall

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Album Review

This album is named after a members-only club that was opened in Havana in pre-Castro times, a period of unbelievable musical activity in Cuba. While bandleader Desi Arnaz became a huge hit in the States, several equally talented musicians never saw success outside their native country, and have had nothing but their music to sustain them during the Castro reign. Ry Cooder went to Cuba to record a musical documentary of these performers. Many of the musicians on this album have been playing for more than a half century, and they sing and play with an obvious love for the material. Cooder could have recorded these songs without paying the musicians a cent; one can imagine them jumping up and grabbing for their instruments at the slightest opportunity, just to play. Most of the songs are a real treasure, traversing a lot of ground in Cuba's musical history. There's the opening tune, "Chan Chan," a composition by 89-year-old Compay Segundo, who was a bandleader in the '50s; the cover of the early-'50s tune "De Camino a la Verada," sung by the 72-year-old composer Ibrahim Ferrer, who interrupted his daily walk through Havana just long enough to record; or the amazing piano playing on "Pablo Nuevo" by 77-year-old Rubén González, who has a unique style that blends jazz, mambo, and a certain amount of playfulness. All of these songs were recorded live — some of them in the musicians' small apartments — and the sound is incredibly deep and rich, something that would have been lost in digital recording and overdubbing. Cooder brought just the right amount of reverence to this material, and it shows in his production, playing, and detailed liner notes. If you get one album of Cuban music, this should be the one. [Buena Vista Social Club was also released on LP.]

Customer Reviews

Nothing Short of Spectacular!!

Simply an amazing group of musicians coming together to create beautiful sounds and bring culture to the world. This group of songs can bring joy to anyones ears. This live version leaves no stone unturned, the audience must have felt privilaged to be a part of what one day people will call a truly historic event worth remembering and recording. Future generations of musicians will treat this as legendary!! I already do...

A LEGENDARY performance

The last performance of the Buena Vista Social Club should be the introduction to anyone not familar with music of Cuba. It is so improvizational, so smooth, yet so bombastic. Ferrer, Gonzales, and Segundo together on one stage is magic. Listen to this album with a Cuba Libre in hand and let go. You'll find yourself immersed in the collective soul of a proud and vibrant people. Afterwards, watch the documentary by Wim Wenders and witness history. Viva Son Cubano!


This is the most beautiful music I have EVER heard!


Formed: Havana, Cuba

Genre: World

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Less a band than an assemblage of some of Cuba's most renowned musical forces, Buena Vista Social Club's origins lie with noted American guitarist Ry Cooder, who in 1996 traveled to Havana to seek out a number of legendary local musicians whose performing careers had largely ended decades earlier with the rise of Fidel Castro. Recruiting the long-forgotten likes of singer Ibrahim Ferrer, guitarists/singers Compay Segundo and Eliades Ochoa, and pianist Rubén González, Cooder entered Havana's Egrem...
Full Bio
Buena Vista Social Club At Carnegie Hall, Buena Vista Social Club
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Customer Ratings