If you are a lover of Latin music, World music, or have ever taken a course in Musicology, then you know about the Buena Vista Social Club. They find themselves both in the social and educational realms because they are more than just amazing music. The Buena Vista Social Club is a charming marriage of traditional culture and innovative music creation; plus – they fit into so many of the boxes the industry and media likes to create.
Unlike many bands in the current market, this group, or rather club, is all about the feel, the vibe, the music, rather than the success or recognition of the individual members. This is because the original idea began way back in the 1940’s as a member’s only club that included group activities, dancing and music; and this lasted for almost 20 years, evolving and changing. Existing in Cuba, they predominantly played and dance to Havana music, the music of the local area.
But in 1959, time ran out for the venue. This came from the Cuban revolution and their attempt to streamline society and put them on the straight and narrow. Fortunately, that was just the beginning for the music, as it was then that it could truly develop. The group and the style continued to develop over decades, usually finding outlets in live performance and in local performance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGbRZ73NvlY (an example of their music).
It was Ry Cooder who brought the group and their music out of retirement and into the world spotlight. Whilst over 5 decades the music had found its way out into the world, it’s origins were still relatively unknown to the masses; and it was all by chance that Ry Cooper even heard them! It was the release of this album, recorded in Havana, that not only reunited many of the original players from the club, it brought the music’s history into the spotlight. In particular, the song, ‘Buena Vista Social Club’ was a true highlight of the past.
And since then, interest in the Havana, and Cuban music has continued to grow and bring Latin American Music into the pop culture world. The group has continued to tour and has played locations such as the world renowned Carnegie Hall. And what is next for the group? Well, Billboard is reporting that Lost and Found, their next album, is set to be their last, and they will perform the final legs of the tour this year.
The world could be sad to see them go; but whether this really is the end, only time will tell.
Author: D. Whelan for Jamhouse Creative
© Jamhouse 2014