Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Oct 22nd-Buena Vista Social club

The Buena Vista Social club was born in 1949 in a neighbourhood in Havana,capital of Cuba.The members only club was a place for musicians to meet,play their music together and smoke a cigar or two.
They sang of the ancient deities of fire and water, gave birth to the New World Afro Caribbean religion of Santería, the spiritual heart of Cuban music. A smooth blend of African percussion,European bass and loose American influences was played.

Pianist Rubén González, who played piano on the 1990s recordings, described the 1940s as "an era of real musical life in Cuba, where there was very little money to earn, but everyone played because they really wanted to". The era saw the birth of the jazz influenced mambo, the charanga, and dance forms such as the pachanga and the cha-cha-cha, as well as the continued development of traditional Afro-Cuban musical styles such as rumba and son.

From the 1960s,the cuban governement began a program of shutting down all nighttime entertainment centers-namely gambling outlets,nightclubs and other places associated with Havana's hedonistic,or pleasure-pursueing reputation. A rapid shift to Communism to build a 'classless and colourless society' meant a redefining of forms of expression in the black community. social and cultural centers were abolished and funds stopped,and with that, a whole generation of music and musicans burnt out.

Cold war politics,namely America's suspicious attitude toward Castro's regime,further discouraged revolutionary ideals and the passage of cuban music into america,such as the beginnings of the latino craze in the early 20th century in Europe and America.
By the late 60s, the distinctness of the myriad sub-genres of Cuban tropical music began to blur, diluting into the generic "salsa" that we have today.

The closure of the buena vista social club was inevitable.

In 1996, American guitarist Ry Cooder was invited to Havana by British world music producer Nick Gold of World Circuit Records to record a session where two African High-life musicians from Mali were to collaborate with Cuban musicians.On Cooder's arrival (via Mexico to avoid the ongoing U.S. trade and travel embargo against Cuba).Plans changed and Cooder and Gold decided to record an album of Cuban son music with local musicians.A total of 20 musicans contributed,finally.
Communication between the Spanish and English speakers at the studio was conducted via an interpreter, although Cooder reflected that "musicians understand each other through means other than speaking"
Upon release on 17 September 1997, the CD became a huge "word of mouth hit".It sold more than 5 million copies and won a Grammy award in 1998.In 2003 it was listed by the New York based Rolling Stone magazine as #260 in The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Ry Cooder inspired New German Cinema director wim wenders to film the new beginnings of the buena vista social club album.The performers had concerts in New York and Amsterdam.Footage of the recording sessions,interviews with the musical veterans and final shots of the rural islanders in the Big Apple(some had never stepped beyond their island) were what make some of the most moving scenes in the documentary.No wonder Wenders quoted "..didnt feel like a documentary anymore,feels like a character piece."
The international success of the Buena Vista Social Club generated a revival of interest in traditional Cuban music and Latin American music as a whole,and they continued to tour the world,remarkably...something of a music anamoly!

refer to http://wim-wenders.com
http://pbs.org/buena vista
for more information and extraordinary photography taken by Wenders and his wife.

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