Martyrdom stories associated with various Valentines connected to February 14 are presented in martyrologies, including a written account of Saint Valentine of Rome imprisonment for performing weddings for soldiers, who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, during his imprisonment Saint Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of his judge, and before his execution he wrote her a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell. Hmm clearly the judge was not at all impressed by his daughers recovery, nevertheless they started a drama that unfolded numerous times, even before choclate was invented to soothe the female psyche...
Today's artists are less a band than an assemblage of some of Cuba's most renowned musical forces, whose performing careers had largely ended decades earlier with the rise of Fidel Castro. Recruiting the long-forgotten likes of singer Ibrahim Ferrer, guitarists/singers Compay Segundo and Eliades Ochoa, and pianist Rubén González, Ry Cooder entered Havana's Egrem Studios to record the album Buena Vista Social Club; the project was an unexpected commercial and critical smash, earning a Grammy and becoming the best-selling release of Cooder's long career. The international success generated a revival of interest in traditional Cuban music and Latin American music as a whole.....N'Joy
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The Buenavista Social Club was a members-only club originally located in Buenavista (literally good view), a quarter in the current neighbourhood of Playa (before 1976 part of Marianao), one of the 15 municipalities in Cuba's capital, Havana. The original club was founded in 1932 in a small wooden venue at calle Consulado y pasaje “A” (currently calle 29, n. 6007). In 1939, due to lack of space the club relocated to number 4610 on Avenue 31, between calles 46 and 48, in Almendares, Marianao. This location is recalled by Juan Cruz, former director of the Marianao Social Club and master of ceremonies at the Salón Rosado de la Tropical (other nightclubs in Havana). As seen in the Buena Vista Social Club documentary, when musicians Ry Cooder, Compay Segundo and a film crew attempted to identify the location of the club in the 1990s, local people could not agree on where it had stood.
At the time, clubs in Cuba were segregated; there were sociedades del blancos (white societies), sociedades de negros (black societies), etc. The Buenavista Social Club operated as a black society, which was rooted in a cabildo. Cabildos were fraternities organized during the 19th century by African slaves. The existence of many other black societies such as Marianao Social Club, Unión Fraternal, Club Atenas (whose members included doctors and engineers), and Buenavista Social Club, exemplified the remnants of institutionalized racial discrimination against Afro-Cubans. These societies operated as recreational centers where workers went to drink, play games, dance and listen to music. In the words of Ry Cooder,
Society in Cuba and in the Caribbean including New Orleans, as far as I know, was organized around these fraternal social clubs. There were clubs of cigar wrappers, clubs for baseball players and they'd play sports and cards—whatever it is they did in their club—and they had mascots, like dogs. At the Buena Vista Social Club, musicians went there to hang out with each other, like they used to do at musicians' unions in the U.S., and they'd have dances and activities.
As a music venue, the Buenavista Social Club experienced the peak of Havana's nightclub life, when charangas and conjuntos, played several sets every night, going from club to club over the course of a week. Often, bands would dedicate songs to the clubs where they played. In the case of the Buenavista Social Club, an eponymous danzón was composed by Israel López "Cachao" in 1938, and performed with Arcaño y sus Maravillas. In addition, Arsenio Rodríguez dedicated "Buenavista en guaguancó" to the same place. Together with Orquesta Melodías del 40, the Maravillas and Arsenio's conjunto were known as Los Tres Grandes (The Big Three), drawing the largest audiences wherever they played. These vibrant times in Havana were described by pianist Rubén González, who played in Arsenio's conjunto, as "an era of real musical life in Cuba, when there was very little money to earn, but everyone played because they really wanted to".
Shortly after the Cuban Revolution of 1959, newly elected Cuban President Manuel Urrutia Lleó, a devout Christian, began a program of closing gambling outlets, nightclubs, and other establishments associated with Havana's hedonistic lifestyle. This had an immediate impact on the livelihoods of local entertainers. As the Cuban government rapidly shifted towards the left in an effort to build a "classless and colourblind society", it struggled to define policy toward forms of cultural expression in the black community; expressions which had implicitly emphasized cultural differences. Consequently, the cultural and social centers were abolished, including the Afro-Cuban mutual aid Sociedades de Color in 1962, to make way for racially integrated societies. Private festivities were limited to weekend parties and organizers' funds were confiscated. The measures meant the closure of the Buena Vista Social Club. Although the Cuban government continued to support traditional music after the revolution, certain favor was given to the politically charged nueva trova, and poetic singer-songwriters such as Silvio Rodríguez and Pablo Milanés. The emergence of pop music and salsa, a style derived from Cuban music but developed in the United States, meant that son music became even less common.
The occurrence of these closures and the change in traditions is the simplest explanation of why many musicians were out of work, and why their style of music had declined before the all-star group Buena Vista Social Club made it popular again.
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Buena Vista Social Club is an ensemble of Cuban musicians established in 1996 to revive the music of pre-revolutionary Cuba. The project was organized by World Circuit executive Nick Gold, produced by American guitarist Ry Cooder and directed by Juan de Marcos González. They named the group after the homonymous members' club in the Buenavista quarter of Havana, a popular music venue in the 1940s. To showcase the popular styles of the time, such as son, bolero and danzón, they recruited a dozen veteran musicians, many of whom had been retired for many years.
The group's eponymous album was recorded in March 1996 and released in September 1997, quickly becoming an international success, which prompted the ensemble to perform with a full line-up in Amsterdam and New York in 1998. German director Wim Wenders captured the performance on film for a documentary—also called Buena Vista Social Club—that included interviews with the musicians conducted in Havana. Wenders' film was released in June 1999 to critical acclaim, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary feature and winning numerous accolades including Best Documentary at the European Film Awards. This was followed up by a second documentary: Buena Vista Social Club: Adios in 2017.
Shortly after returning from Havana to record the Buena Vista Social Club album, Ry Cooder began working with German film director Wim Wenders on the soundtrack to Wenders' film The End of Violence, the third such collaboration between the two artists. According to Wenders, it was an effort to force Cooder to focus on the project, "He always sort of looked in the distance and smiled, and I knew he was back in Havana." Wenders filmed the recording sessions on the recently enhanced format Digital Video with the help of cinematographer Robert Müller, and then shot interviews with each "Buena Vista" ensemble member in different Havana locations. Wenders was also present to film the group's first performance with a full line-up in Amsterdam in April 1998 (two nights) and a second time in Carnegie Hall, New York City on 1 July 1998. The completed documentary was released on 17 September 1999, and included scenes in New York of the Cubans, some of whom had never left the island, window shopping and visiting tourist sites. According to Sight & Sound magazine, these scenes of "innocents abroad" were the film's most moving moments, as the contrasts between societies of Havana and New York become evident on the faces of the performers. Ferrer, from an impoverished background and staunchly anti consumerist, was shown describing the city as "beautiful" and finding the experience overwhelming. Upon completion of filming, Wenders felt that the film "didn't feel really like it was a documentary anymore. It felt like it was a true character piece".
The film became a box office success, grossing $23,002,182 worldwide. Critics were generally enthusiastic about the story and especially the music, although leading U.S. film critic Roger Ebert and the British Film Institute's Peter Curran felt that Wenders had lingered too long on Cooder during the performances; and the editing, which interspersed interviews with music, had disrupted the continuity of the songs. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary feature in 1999. It won best documentary at the European Film Awards and received seventeen other major accolades internationally.
Wim Wenders - Buena Vista Social Club (avi 787mb)
The success of both the album and film sparked a revival of interest in traditional Cuban music and Latin American music in general. Some of the Cuban performers later released well-received solo albums and recorded collaborations with stars from different musical genres. The "Buena Vista Social Club" name became an umbrella term to describe these performances and releases, and has been likened to a brand label that encapsulates Cuba's "musical golden age" between the 1930s and 1950s. The new success was fleeting for the most recognizable artists in the ensemble: Compay Segundo, Rubén González, and Ibrahim Ferrer, who died at the ages of ninety-five, eighty-four, and seventy-eight respectively; Compay Segundo and González in 2003, then Ferrer in 2005.
Several surviving members of the Buena Vista Social Club, such as veteran singer Omara Portuondo, trumpeter Manuel "Guajiro" Mirabal, laúd player Barbarito Torres and trombonist and conductor Jesús "Aguaje" Ramos currently tour worldwide, to popular acclaim, with new members such as singer Carlos Calunga and pianist Rolando Luna, as part of a 13-member band called Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club.
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This album is named after a members-only club that was opened in Havana in pre-Castro times, a period of unbelievable musical activity in Cuba. While bandleader Desi Arnaz became a huge hit in the States, several equally talented musicians never saw success outside their native country, and have had nothing but their music to sustain them during the Castro reign. Ry Cooder went to Cuba to record a musical documentary of these performers. Many of the musicians on this album have been playing for more than a half century, and they sing and play with an obvious love for the material. Cooder could have recorded these songs without paying the musicians a cent; one can imagine them jumping up and grabbing for their instruments at the slightest opportunity, just to play. Most of the songs are a real treasure, traversing a lot of ground in Cuba's musical history. There's the opening tune, "Chan Chan," a composition by 89-year-old Compay Segundo, who was a bandleader in the '50s; the cover of the early-'50s tune "De Camino a la Verada," sung by the 72-year-old composer Ibrahim Ferrer, who interrupted his daily walk through Havana just long enough to record; or the amazing piano playing on "Pablo Nuevo" by 77-year-old Rubén González, who has a unique style that blends jazz, mambo, and a certain amount of playfulness. All of these songs were recorded live -- some of them in the musicians' small apartments -- and the sound is incredibly deep and rich, something that would have been lost in digital recording and overdubbing. Cooder brought just the right amount of reverence to this material, and it shows in his production, playing, and detailed liner notes. If you get one album of Cuban music, this should be the one.
Buena Vista Social Club - I (flac 353mb)
01 Chan Chan 4:16
02 De Camino A La Vereda 5:03
03 El Cuarto De Tula 7:27
04 Pueblo Nuevo 6:05
05 Dos Gardenias 3:02
06 ¿Y Tú Qué Has Hecho? 3:13
07 Veinte Años 3:29
08 El Carretero 3:28
09 Candela 5:27
10 Amor De Loca Juventud 3:21
11 Orgullecida 3:18
12 Murmullo 3:50
13 Buena Vista Social Club 4:50
14 La Bayamesa 2:54
Buena Vista Social Club - I (ogg 148mb)
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It should never cease to amaze how spry and dramatically potent a force is the Buena Vista Social Club. The group--really a gaggle of aging Cuban maestros brought together for stunning all-star performances--keeps its footing in Cuban dance music at the same time as it revels in the lax tempo of layered hand percussion and traditional rhythms. Ibrahim Ferrer stepped to the international fore as the vocalist on the eponymous BVSC CD in 1997 and here furthers his already-obvious command of everything from sultry, horn-swaying ballads to gritty son tunes like "Mami me gusto." Ferrer's tattered vocal inflections shape the more rollicking tunes so their texture is palpable, especially when belted in antiphonal give-and-takes with the rest of the huge band he totes along here. A 15-member-strong string section steps forward on the bolero tracks, which send off a smoldering passion that's startling in light of the BVSC's heightened, horn-charged charts. But the rich string passages color songs in wide brush strokes, which is to say that they heighten the passion to no end. Ferrer's debut might come in his twilight years, but it's a majorly luminous event.
Buena Vista Social Club Presents Ibrahim Ferrer (flac 307mb)
01 Bruca Maniguá 4:44
02 Herido De Sombras 4:11
03 Marieta 5:55
04 Guateque Campesino 5:09
05 Mamí Me Gustó 5:04
06 Nuestra Ultima Cita 3:56
07 Cienfuegos Tiene Su Guaguancó 5:22
08 Silencio 4:38
09 Aquellos Ojos Verdes 4:54
10 Qué Bueno Baila Usted 4:39
11 Como Fue 3:33
Buena Vista Social Club Presents Ibrahim Ferrer (ogg 116mb)
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Many people think of Buena Vista Social Club as forgotten musical legends Ry Cooder discovered and introduced to the world. The reality is some of them were not forgotten and some were not even legends. Now let me introduce Arsenio Rodriguez. This album features his compositions. He was a genius, a prolific composer and a great innovator. He introduced conga drums, piano and brass section to Cuban septetos making a de-facto revolution in Cuban music. He was also the true creator of mambo. By 1950 when he moved to the US he was already a legend. He kept performing and recording with limited commercial success. He was a cult figure and died poor and forgotten in Los Angeles in 1970. That makes this album a tribute to a true forgotten legend.
So I'm glad Guajiro Mirabal and BVSC had a shot at Arsenio. This recording is explosive and cheerful. Highly enjoyable dance music that has standed the test of time reaffirming once again Arsenio's position in the history of Cuban music.
Buena Vista Social Club Presents Manuel Guajiro Mirabal (flac 279mb)
01 El Rincón Caliente 4:46
Para Bailar El Montuno 4:17
El Reloj De Pastora 3:49
Me Boté De Guaño 4:24
Mi Corazón No Tiene Quien Lo Llore 3:16
Tengo Que Olvidarte 4:37
Canta Montero 4:12
No Vuelvo A Morón. Las Tres Marias. Apurrúñenme Mujeres Medley 5:03
Dombe Dombe 2:16
Buena Vista Social Club Presents Manuel Guajiro Mirabal (ogg 112mb)
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Turning the covers album concept on its head, Rhythms del Mundo: Cuba doesn't set a varied group of northern artists loose on the music made famous by the Buena Vista Social Club, but instead sets the Club's members lose on the northerners' own songs. Now that's an inspired idea, and all to aid charities assisting the victims of natural disasters and raising awareness of climate change. However, to call this a covers album is a bit misleading, as most of the songs feature the original vocals, and occasionally some of the original instrumentation, but it's not a remix project either, as the Social Club add their own music to the original recordings. The main recording sessions took place in Havana at Abdala Studios from April 2005 to June 2006 and mixed at Lazy Moon Studios (UK). While the majority of the vocals remain the same, the musicians of the Buena Vista Social Club reworked the original orchestration from each song and created something utterly unique, casting their trademark mastery over each track. So, it's a grand fusion of Cuban and northern sounds. And eclectic to boot, with songs contributed by such international artists as Quincy Jones, Sting and U2, as well as the likes of Radiohead and Coldplay. But to give the set a real frisson, the Social Club also took on such younger, feted artists as Franz Ferdinand, Maroon 5, the Kaiser Chiefs, and the so hot they're actually sizzling Arctic Monkeys. Reaching back into the past, Ibrahim Ferrer and the Club also deliver up a lush cover of "As Time Goes By," Omara Portunondo joins Ferrer for an equally lavish "Casablanca," and in another (and one of her final recordings) the late singer offers up a heartrending "Killing Me Softly." These numbers give the set its timeless quality; the rest its up-to-date feel. Not every song works perfectly, Jack Johnson's vocals are a bit uncomfortable rhythmically on his version, but Coldplay's is superb, the Arctic Monkeys are absolutely lethal, U2's track is stunning, and Dido and Faithless' is sublime. The Club brings out the sweetness and glow of Maroon 5's song, give the Kaiser Chiefs a wonderful Latin kick, totally reinvent Radiohead, then give Quincy Jones a lesson in authentic Spanish music, while trotting out their own soul credentials. Of course the musicianship is flawless, the arrangements inspired, and this mix of north and south proves that the music is not just simpatico, it was surely made for creative melding.
Buena Vista Social Club - Rhythms Del Mundo Cuba (flac 369mb)
01 Clocks 5:01
02 Better Together 3:27
03 Dancing Shoes 2:29
04 One Step Too Far 3:17
05 As Time Goes By 3:10
06 I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For 4:53
07 She Will Be Loved 4:05
08 Modern Way 3:58
09 Killing Me Softly 4:27
10 Ai No Corrida 4:30
11 Fragilidad 4:17
12 Don't Know Why 3:10
13 Hotel Buena Vista 3:37
14 The Dark Of The Matinee (Spanish Version) 3:58
15 High And Dry 5:14
16 Casablanca (As Time Goes By) 3:10
Buena Vista Social Club - Rhythms Del Mundo Cuba (ogg 153mb)
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