When Ry Cooder, by means of World Cicuit Records – label specializing in West African and Cuban music – produced the album “Buena Vista Social Club”, something changed radically in the international music scene. It was 1997, and although the parable of world music was known to all and many kinds of music unknown until a few years before became part of the “possibility” of listening to the Western audience, a group of very old Cuban musicians has achieved worldwide success. Nothing like the enthusiasm (especially of music specialists) that some years before (in 1994) had aroused the album “Talking Timbouktu” (produced by Hannibal Records), which had published the same Ry Cooder with the Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure , or the album “A meeting by the river”, a collaboration between the American guitarist, his son and Indian musician Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (1992). “Buena Vista Social Club” (which is also the name of the orchestra that thenceforth began an international career unimaginable especially for the same components) was the true musical phenomenon from the turn of the new century. A phenomenon that has opened eyes of listeners and record companies. Emboldened by the possibility that from “remote” places in the music world could emerge not only good songs, but musicians able to communicate a new “model” of music: exotic (as indicated with the principles of world music), but not rhetorical. Simple, effective, direct and understandable, in a form that – filtered by the personalities of the artists – stood poised between tradition and the need for a renewal of the international music imaginary. After the album release, the German director Wim Wenders (with whom Cooder had collaborated several times in the past) shot a documentary on the Cuban band, retracing the history and career of all the members of the Club and, consequently, Cuba and cultural policy of the Castro regime. The result is a gripping tale and an unforgettable film, which has confirmed the success of the record, grossing worldwide more than twenty million dollars. Now, after almost twenty years since the revival, some members of the Buena Vista have unfortunately disappeared (Ibrahim Ferrer, Compay Segundo, Ruben Gonzalez) and others, now elderly, although in form, have decided to close that experience with a farewell tour in Europe and will come up in Dubai. A few days ago they played at the cavea of the Auditorium in Rome, obtaining a great success with critics and audiences. For those interested, the orchestra will tour until January 2015, and here you can see the calendar of exhibitions.
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