You may remember that a couple weeks ago I cooked dinner for my neighbor Armando’s 89th birthday, which we celebrated on the patio with dinner and beers. Armando left Cuba in 1958 for the USA and moved here upon his retirement 28 years ago.
During dinner I played my Buena Vista Social Club, and other Cuban music, CDs. The next day Armando asked to borrow the CDs for the day. I later made copies for him and mentioned that I had the Buena Vista Social Club video which documents Ry Cooder’s recruitment of the mostly older Cuban musicians who ultimately produced a Grammy winning CD and performed in Amsterdam and Carnegie Hall in New York. The lineup included such legendary singers as Ibrahim Ferrer, Omara Portuondo, and Company Segundo; piano virtuoso Ruben Gonzalez; guitarist Eliades Ochoa; and quiet a number of others. The selections of famous Cuba songs are augmented Ry Cooder’s subtle slide guitar contributions.
The video, which opens with Company Segundo searching an Havana neighborhood from the back seat of 1950s convertible for the long defunct Buena Vista Social Club, features interviews of each of the musicians in Cuba, followed by scenes of them in the Cuban recording studio, and then in concert at Carnegie Hall. It is a wonderful piece of work.
Armando asked to watch the video so Thursday we did. It was quite a treat for me to listen to Armando sing along with the songs he recognized from his earlier days.