Several years ago, I was introduced to the album Buena Vista Social Club and immediately fell in love. The sound was Latin old school, complex and soulful. I soon learned Buena Vista Social Club isn’t so much a band but rather an ensemble of Afro-Cuban artists legendary for playing son, a style of music and dance that originated in Cuba and spread throughout Latin America in the 1930s. The creation of this album was made possible by Ry Cooder, renowned America guitarist, who traveled to Cuba in 1996 with the intention of recording an album with African and Cuban artists. The African musicians had visa issues and weren’t able to enter Cuba which left Mr. Cooder wandering what to do on the island. He asked around for the whereabouts of these forgotten son musicians (whom were all in their 80s and 90s!), gathered them in the same room and the rest is history. Everything happens for a reason, right? The unexpected smashing success of the album was beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. The documentary, also by the name Buena Vista Social Club chronicles this accidental and unique story. I only recently learned about the documentary and was so moved after watching that it inspired me to write this. Most of the elder musicians reminded me immensely of my badass grandfather. They display that timeless elegance, demeanor and charm that seems to be extinct nowadays. I encourage you all to find the time and watch this beautiful story. I was so deeply touched by the fact that most of these artists were no longer playing music when they recorded the album. They had given up. But they finally found the recognition they deserved thanks to the project. The movie was nominated for an Oscar in 2000 for best documentary feature. Just in case you need another reason to check it out.
Most of the original musicians have passed away but there are a few original members called Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club that continue to tour. Imagine my delight when the Lost and Found album was released this year and a farewell tour was announced!! How good is life!? I thought. The new songs are unreleased tracks from the original Buena Vista Social Club recordings and live versions of others. I really don’t care where they come from and that most of the more prominent artists have died. I get to listen to them LIVE!! They kick off their Adios tour today at the Ravinia festival and culminate in Mexico City on November 15th. I will attend tonight and words don’t really do much justice to the level of excitement I feel! Let this be a tiny redemption for missing my favorite Latin artist, Manu Chao, back in 2011. I suggest you watch the movie, devour all of their music (available on Spotify), purchase concert tickets for the city near you and tell me all about it! Ready, set, go!