Buena Vista Social Club (Remaster) Buena Vista Social Club

Album info



Album including Album cover


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  • 1Chan Chan04:17
  • 2De Camino a La Vereda05:03
  • 3El Cuarto De Tula07:25
  • 4Pueblo Nuevo06:06
  • 5Dos Gardenias03:03
  • 6Y Tu Que Has Hecho?03:13
  • 7Veinte Anos03:31
  • 8El Carretero03:30
  • 9Candela05:29
  • 10Amor De Loca Juventud03:23
  • 11Orgullecida03:19
  • 12Murmullo03:51
  • 13Buena Vista Social Club04:52
  • 14La Bayamesa02:53
  • Total Runtime59:55

Info for Buena Vista Social Club (Remaster)

This Grammy award winning album features legendary guitarist Ry Cooder on assorted guitars with the cream of Cuban's finest musicians. Certified Platinum by the RIAA (1/00).

The original idea behind Buena Vista was to record a collaboration between a number of African and Cuban guitarists. World Circuit’s Nick Gold invited Ry Cooder to participate, having worked together before on Ali Farka Touré’s 1994 Grammy Award–winning Talking Timbuktu. Cooder replied within hours saying he would be there. The Africans failed to make the trip, but recording went ahead anyway.

'Buena Vista Social Club' is both the name given to this extraordinary pool of musicians and the album, recorded in just six days in Havana’s 1950s vintage Egrem studios. The album has an intimate, natural charm that comes from musicians totally at ease with other, sharing a deep passion and understanding for the music and playing a repertoire suggested by themselves. Arrangements and instrumentation were worked out during recording according to the feel of the individual songs, and the vast majority of the performances were recorded 'live' in one or two takes.

The oldest musician on the album is the 89-year-old giant of Cuban music, guitarist and vocalist Compay Segundo. According to Cooder, “the whole album turned on Compay. He was the fulcrum, the pivot. He knew all the best songs and the way to do them. Well, he’s been doing them since World War One.” Featured on vocals is 70-year-old Ibrahim Ferrer, a star from the 1950s who was literally called in off the streets on the first day of recording after years of musical inactivity. Also on vocals is the great bolero singer Omara Portuondo, whom Cooder calls “the Edith Piaf of Cuba.” Omara happened to be in the studio lobby and Cooder invited her upstairs to record. On guitar and vocals is Eliades Ochoa, the great country musician who was flown in for these recordings from Santiago in the east of Cuba. On piano is the brilliant Rubén González, veteran of Arsenio Rodríguez’s early 1940s band whom Cooder describes as “the greatest piano soloist I have ever heard in my life.”

These featured musicians are joined by a host of Cuba’s finest players, including Orlando 'Cachaíto' López on bass, Manuel 'Guajiro' Mirabal on trumpet, and the percussionists from the band Sierra Maestra.

The album includes a wide variety of Cuban styles, from the city sounds of Havana to the country style of Santiago, and the songs cover a range of the Island’s history from 'La Bayamesa' written in 1869 to 'Chan Chan,' a contemporary composition by Compay Segundo.

„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.“ (Steve McMullen, AMG)

Ry Cooder, vocals, guitar, mandolin
Compay Segundo, vocals, guitar, congas, background vocals
Eliades Ochoa, vocals, guitar
Julio Fernandez, vocals, maracas
Ibrahim Ferrer, vocals, background vocals
Manuel 'Puntillita' Licea, vocals, background vocals
Omara Portuondo, vocals
Benito Suárez Magana, guitar
Manuel 'El Guajiro' Mirabal, trumpet
Rubén González, piano
Lázaro Villa, congas, guiro
Carlos González, bongos, cowbells
Juan de Marcos González, guiro, background vocals
Alberto Valdés, maracas
Julienne Oviedo Sánchez, timbales
Luis Barzaga, background vocals

Recorded March 1996 at Egrem Studios, Havana, Cuba
Engineered by Jerry Boys, Larry Hirsch
Produced by Ry Cooder

Digitally remastered

Buena Vista Social Club
There are a few times in your life when you hear a piece of music that instantly sparks something in your core; that awakens a new but somehow familiar awareness, illuminating a connection to your past that had been there all the while.

I had such an experience the first time I listened to 'Buena Vista Social Club,' a beautiful reunion of some of CubaÆs legendary musicians orchestrated by musical treasure hunter Ry Cooder. Though I am not of Cuban descent (my roots are in Colombia), listening to this album transported me to a steamy nightclub in 1950s Havana.

Cooder, himself a musical journeyman, has been performing and recording his own work since 1970, and has collaborated with such varied artists as Arlo Guthrie, the Rolling Stones, Taj Mahal, and Randy Newman. In recent years he has taken on the ambitious challenge of preserving and celebrating international musical treasures in danger of vanishing. 'Buena Vista Social Club' is one such project.

The album is a compilation by the players and singers of the æson de CubaÆ style, an eclectic musical tradition that flourished from the 1920s to the 1950s. The music is as varied and colorful as the Pan-American landscape: from the languid country sound of 'Chan Chan,' to the urban piano of 'Pueblo Nuevo,' to the American jazz-influenced 'Amor de Loca Juventud,' to the pulsating Afro-Cuban rhythms of 'El Cuarto de Tula' and 'Candela.' These latter two songs, which are impossible to listen to sitting still, capture the spirit of the day. Their extended vocal improvisations are laced with sexual innuendo and double meanings û a reminder of what romance was like in a more refined era.

They are my two favorite songs also because they feature the performer who embodies the spirit of the sonero: 72-year-old Ibrahim Ferrer. According to Cooder's extensive liner notes, Ferrer was a star during this golden age, but his soothing velvet voice later fell out of fashion. Before this album was recorded, Ferrer, a shy and unassuming man, lived in old Havana, in a rundown apartment building, and shined shoes to pay the rent. He was called into the studio from his daily walk on the day of recording, and these songs are the priceless result.

In an interview with The New York Times, Ferrer proclaimed that 'an angel came and picked me up and said, 'Chico, come and do this record.' I didn't want to do it, because I had given up on music. But now I have my own record, the first one ever, so I'm very happy. I don't have to shine shoes anymore.'

Astonishingly, this album, along with two others featuring several of the same artists, was cut during a frenetic two-week recording session. And listening to the CD, itÆs not hard to imagine the palpable energy that must have flowed through the studio.

The overwhelming public embrace of the album and the group had to surprise even Cooder. An immediate smash, the CD soon went platinum and became the best-selling Afro-Cuban album of all time. In its sole U.S. appearance last summer, the group sold out New YorkÆs Carnegie Hall and brought the house down. The elder legends also played to adoring crowds throughout a lengthy world tour. The music also has garnered critical acclaim, winning a 1998 Grammy award. One critic even compared its universal impact and appeal to the BeatlesÆ 'Sergeant PepperÆs Lonely Hearts Club Band.'

Thanks to Ry Cooder and the enduring genius and charm of the soneros, the music of CubaÆs golden age lives on, to be celebrated by new generations far beyond the Caribbean.

This album contains no booklet.

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