Review: Buena Vista Social Club – Cosmo Music

Hi, this is Jimmy from Cosmo Music, and today
we’re going to be talking about some random
records. Hopefully I can provide some insight
into what makes these albums so special.
Let’s talk about some world music. The Buena
Vista Social Club was a music venue in Havana,
Cuba from the 1940s to the early 1960s that
promoted traditional Cuban music. But after
the Cuban revolution in 1959, many venues
closed down, including the Buena Vista Social
Club. So many musicians who worked there were
out of work, and as a result, unfortunately,
traditional Cuban music went into a decline.
Fast forward to 35 years later to the mid
1990s, where the American guitarist Ry Cooder
traveled to Havana to record traditional Cuban
music with local musicians. Many of the musicians
he assembled previously played at the Buena
Vista Social Club, and were now in their 70s
and 80s, some of whom hadn’t played at a professional
level since the revolution.
The album was recorded in just six days at
a Havana recording studio that had remained
unchanged since the 1950s. The results on
the recording are incredible. The performances
and the atmosphere take you back to the 1940s
and 50s of pre-revolution Cuba when this kind
of music would fill the nightclubs of Havana.

/> Also, many of the musicians who had largely
been forgotten enjoyed a resurgence of popularity
that they hadn’t had in over 50 years, including
vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer, who Cooder called
“The Cuban Nat King Cole”, and pianist Rubén
González, who at the time, didn’t even own
a piano, as it had been eaten by termites.
Cuban referred to González as “the greatest
piano soloist he’s ever heard” and called
him “a Cuban cross between Thelonious Monk
and Felix the Cat”.
The Buena Vista Social Club album was an incredible
success, selling 8 million copies, it led
to a concert tour, a great documentary by
the German filmmaker Wim Wenders, and perhaps,
most importantly, it led to a renewed interest
in Cuban music at an international level.
This is Jimmy, tune in next time for another
random record.

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