Buena Vista Social Club - album 1:
It all started in 1996 when Ry Cooder, an American musician traced the good old musicians from Cuba. Many of them were up to 80 year old, and had retired from their musical life for a long time ago. Some of them worked as shoe shiners. So in this way it was a kind of comeback for them.
They recorded the first album Buena Vista Social Club in Egrem Studios in Havana, and it became immediately a sales success all over the world. They also became honoured with a Grammy award, which confirmed their great performance and popularity.
This album is so great. It is almost without boring parts, with lot of salsa and fascinated rhythms, which make you really happy. When I hear this music, I feel like I have to do some strong movements, take some steps, turn around, and dance the whole night away. It seems to me that the musicians really enjoy playing, and the music comes naturally out from their souls.
Buena Vista Social Club presents Ibrahim Ferrer - album 2:
In 1998 the group followed up the success by recording a new album. For the first time the main person Ibrahim Ferrer in the group make his debut with a solo album, but still with the same musicians who made the first album. Ferrer is a great vocalist and has been famous for many years in Cuba, but it was not before he joined his friends in the extraordinary group Buena Vista Social Club, he became international famous. In addition on this album other exceptional musicians have joined this group too.
This album is in my opinion more various in quality than the first album, but some of the songs here are at the same time much better. They are more spiritual and powerful, with a shifting tempo, which makes the songs extra flourishing. Accompanied by electrical guitars of Ry Cooder, gives this the songs an extra dimension. Because of a wider range of musicians, Ferrer can exploits the full extent of his unique skills. It shows that Ibrahim Ferrer is an excellent interpreter of Cuban music. He is now 74 year, and makes his preparations for playing at the Molde Jazz festival in Norway this summer.
In 1998 when Cooder returned to Havana to record a solo album by the Ibrahim Ferrer, the film producer Wim Wenders filmed the recording. You can see the musician on several concert stages, both in Cuba and abroad. A strong emotional highlight in the movie is when they are playing at Carnegie Hall in New York. The audience stands up and gives them a warm applause. So a Cuban flag rises on the stage and the musicians starts to weep in happiness. The songs are often cut short compares with the songs on the studio albums.
This movie is a documentary about the musicians in Buena Vista Social Club and is not intended to be a concert movie. It is interesting to watch and hear the fabulous musicians tell their own stories through interviews and music. You can see them walk around in the streets thinking about the past and the future. Probably was this the last concert with whole orchestra together. Since they all have their own new carriers now, they are not so easy to join all at the same time. In their home country they are called "Super-Abuelos", which means super grandfather. It's refreshing to see a music movie like ''Buena Vista Social Club.
The vitality in the Cuban music is amazing. The greatest ambassadors for this kind of music are definitely Ibrahim Ferrer and the Buena Vista Social Club. Despite the musicians age they have enormous energy and passion in their life and music. Highly recommended from the bottom of my heart!
Stein Morten Lund, 11 July 2000.