At Carrnegie Hall, Buena Vista Social Club


World Circuit/Nonesuch, Cuba ****1/2
Rating: 90
By Carlos Reyes

A ravishing and unforgettable night of wrinkled musicians enlightened a sold-out Carnegie Hall in New York, thankfully it was recorded. Ry Cooder embraced a generation of Cuban masters that although were still extremely talented, had dissolved in the memory of Cuban arts. Cooder’s outsider view of these musical treasures made their album a classic and in 1996 the best selling world album of all time (some 8 million copies). An academy award nominated documentary was also exquisitely produced, adding to the already engaging charm of the good looking club. After over a decade of this performance, World Circuit releases an overwhelming recording that proves this project has no age and will have a healthy and timeless transcendence. The departure of some of its visionaries like Ruben Gonzalez, Compay Segundo and Ibrahim Ferrer were heartbreaking, performing at Carnegie Hall was a life-time dream for many of them, and this 2-disc set package is a fantastic proof of the day their dream was fulfilled. A chunk of the club keeps releasing high quality material, especially Omara Portuondo who does an excellent job here in the album’s vivacious version of “Quizas Quizas.” The production is vivid and round, unlike most live albums recorded at large auditoriums, Carnegie Hall as we know has the greatest acoustics. The package also includes a 32 page booklet that you can download as a PDF file here. Buena Vista Social Club brought life into Latin music; suddenly the world had a close eye on tropical music and in search for the upcoming classicists. There is a moment where the “I’ve been here already” pops up, but the poignant feeling never leaves, the music goes on and the suddenly you realize that the ghosts had never sounded so colorful.

♫♫♫ “De Camino a la vereda”
“Changui Pal Monte” (Via CMS)
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