Thursday, February 7, 2013

In review--Aye, es Bueno!

Best of Buena Vista
(An homage to Buena Vista Social Club)
Arc Music

In 1999 when I sat with my film colleagues and a film festival audience to watch Wim Wender’s documentary Buena Vista Social Club, I fell in love with Cuban son.  Coming from a background of youthful rock music, I felt in awe as I watched the octogenarian musicians that comprised Buena Vista Social Club perform sweet songs with total abandonment.  I realized that it takes multiple generations to preserve and perform music.  Since that time, several of the Buena Vistas died, including Compay Segundo, Ibrahim Ferrer, and Rùben Gonzalez.  However, the spirit of Cuban son and Buena Vista Social Club is alive and well, as it appears on Best of Buena Vista.

This CD features Pio Leyva, Juan De Marcos (musician responsible for the formation of Buena Vista Social Club), Puntilitta  Licea, Ruby Calzado, Maracaibo Oriental, Josè Artemio Castañeda, Raul Planas and Sergio Rivero.  However, these musicians don’t perform in the same band and instead appear in a compilation format.  It doesn’t matter since the listener can just use his or her imagination while listening to these delicious dance songs and boleros.  Better yet, the listener could just dance with wild abandonment while playing this CD.  It would be hard not to.

Soneros De Verdad opens the compilation with the spicy A Buena Vista and the sizzling Changüi a revè.  Compay Segundo’s nephews chip in Chan Chan (a well-loved Cuban song).  Musica Cubano performs the soulful bolero Desvelo de Amor with its sultry muted trumpet and shimmering très (Cuban 3-string guitar).  Then Castañeda’s band heats up the room with the son-salsa number Yamile which features horns and flute set over a background of Afro-Cuban percussion.  Raùl Planas’ A quièn no le gusta el son, Pio Leyva’s salsa-son Yo no soy mentiroso (with its rapid vocals), Castañeda’s sweet bolero Imposible vivir sin ti and Planas’ Lágrimas negras round off my favorite tracks from the compilation. But really, they're all favorites now.

Some of these sons will sound familiar to anyone who has danced to traditional Cuban music, listened to world music radio shows, Putumayo compilations, or watched the documentary Buena Vista Social Club.  True fans of Cuban music will most likely know all the songs.  This compilation also provides a lovely way to pass the music on to younger audiences.  These sons sparkle and haven’t lost their luster over the decades.  In fact, like a good wine, the songs aged gracefully, just like the octogenarian musicians.

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