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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


Buena Vista Social Club
Directed by Wim Wenders
Artisan 12/99 DVD/VHS Documentary

In 1996, the legendary guitarist Ry Cooder brought together a group of Cuban musicians in Havana's Egrem Studios to assemble an album that went on to win a Grammy. Some of the long-lived performers on the recording hadn't played their instruments for more than ten years.

In this relaxed and entertaining documentary directed by Wim Wenders, the same group gathers to record a solo album featuring vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer whom Cooder has lionized as "the Cuban Nat King Cole." Among the colorful musicians profiled are 90-year-old guitarist Compay Segundo gifted pianist Ruben Gonzalez, and versatile singer Manuel Licea. They talk about their careers and life in Cuba.

The high points in the documentary are the highlights of the Buena Vista Social Club performing shows in Amsterdam and at New York's Carnegie Hall in 1998. This delightful film is a tribute to cross-cultural cooperation and the variety of Cuban music.


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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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