Buena Vista Social Club ‘Lost and Found’ Cd/LP/Dig (World Circuit) 4/5

buena-vista-social-clubIt is virtually twenty years ago that the first recording took place of a then virtually unknown collective of Cuban musicians that had graced the music scene there during the mid-late 1950s, but for a good four decades thereafter had largely fallen into oblivion. Thankfully World Circuit saw fit to record the veteran at the Egrem studios in Havana and Wim Wenders had the presence of mind to film them and document both their live performances and their first trip to New York and over eight million copies of the first album were shifted globally. What marvellous cultural ambassadors they now appear with a thawing in relations between Cuba and the United States. This new release is in reality a collection of the band in its myriad formations at the absolute peak of the creative powers and is a worthy album in its own right and not simply a collection of discarded numbers. The big band (banda gigante) re-working of Bruca Manigua’ simply fizzes with panache and vitality, and this was recorded in 2000 when Ibrahim Ferrer was still taking care of lead vocals. Ferrer was that most versatile of singers and elsewhere he delivers a heartfelt bolero on ‘Como fue’ which is virtually a signature tune. Semi-instrumental pieces work particularly well with ‘Boclas de oro’ a stunning track with a wonderful piano solo from Rubén González. A younger band member whose contribution is sometimes overlooked is singer Calunga and on the infectious ‘Tiene sabor’ he opens up and the heavens open with catchy piano vamp while another big band extravaganza awaits on ‘Guajira en F’. This year represents the adios or farewell tour and several of the key band members have now passed away. However, the cannon of music that this collective have laid down will remain for decades to come.

Tim Stenhouse