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Selected by Dan Grunebaum

Buena Vista Social Club


Buena Vista Social Club
Photo courtesy of Conversation

In case you happen not to have been on planet Earth for the past year, you are forgiven for not having heard of the Buena Vista Social Club. In case you have, you know that the Cuban music group became participants in a 1997 smash Ry Cooder album and subsequently a Wim Wenders documentary. For four days at the end of summer, three of the people at the heart of the group-Ibrahim Ferrer, Ruben Gonzalez and Omara Portuondo will perform at various venues around Tokyo. Meanwhile another member, Eliades Ochoa, will hold court at the Blue Note Tokyo from July 31 through August 5.

In 1996, eminent American guitarist Ry Cooder, noted for his forays into world music and folklore, traveled to Cuba to track down a number of legendary Cuban musicians whose careers had tanked under Castro. Recruiting singer Ibrahim Ferrer (who he found shining shoes), guitarist/singers Compay Segundo and Eliades Ochoa, and pianist Ruben Gonzalez, he began recording a series of relaxed sessions, with director Wim Wenders capturing the sessions on film.

The result was the album Buena Vista Social Club, which simultaneously resuscitated the careers of the Cubans, now well advanced in years, and became the best-selling album of Cooder' long career.

Subsequent tours have taken the members around the world both individually and under the Buena Vista Social Club aegis, as well as spawning solo albums by Segundo, now 93, Ferrer, and Gonzalez.

With the low-key, pre-revolutionary sounds typical of the Buena Vista Social Club proving as popular in Japan as in the West, these shows should be very well attended. Advanced ticket purchase recommended.


Buena Vista Social Club: Bunkamura Orchard Hall, 8/29-30, 7pm, SJY8500, AJY7500, BJY6500. Tokyo International Forum Hall A, 9/1, 7pm, SJY8000, AJY7000, BJY6000, CJY5000. Bunkyo Civic Hall, 9/2, 6pm, SJY8500, AJY7500. Info: Conversation 03-3233-1933.

Eliades Ochoa: Blue Note Tokyo, 7/31-8/5, 7pm and 9:30pm, JY7000. Tel: 5485-0088..


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