On its release in 1997, Ry Cooder’s 14-track album project The Buena Vista Social Club single-handedly resurrected Cuba’s golden era of music between 1930 and 1950, when the cult Havana live venue of the same name was at its peak. At that time, the likes of the late, great Ibrahim Ferrer and Compay Segundo (who wrote the album’s opening track) came together playing bolero, mambo, salsa and merengue rhythms to enraptured crowds of fleet-footed dancers.
German director Wim Wenders’ film of the same name was a similarly resounding success, grossing well in excess of $20 million worldwide. Documenting the album tour around Europe and across the Atlantic to New York, interviewing protagonists and raconteurs on the island, the award winning documentary offered an even deeper sense of the era that inspired the magic. The perfect images for the perfect soundtrack.
Between the album, the tour and the film, a phenomenon was born, and it is testament to the quality of composition and musicianship that the group still tours to packed audiences today. Three surviving members from the original film lead the current line-up for a 15-year anniversary show at Teatro Bradesco: trumpeter Guajiro Mirabal, trombone player Jesus ‘Aguaje’ Ramos and Barbarito Torres.