Most of us became aware of this orchestra when Wim Wender’s documentary was released in 1999. The CD bearing their name has become the biggest selling World Music album of all time. Several individual members who were then “discovered” released a series of individual albums under the watchful eye of American guitarist Ry Cooder. Sadly most of the original ensemble we saw are now no longer with us.
Last night we saw the Buena Vista Social Club perform in Brisbane, direct from the Adelaide Festival and did they whip up a storm. The full house of fans just couldn’t stop bopping. Still with us was octogenarian Omara Portuondo. She sang her heart out with amazing force and control and she had us in the palm of her hand. One of the other original alumni, Guajiro Mirabal, still played a mean trumpet effortlessly. The 15-member ensemble was very ably led by trombonist Jesus ‘Aguaje’ Ramos, and one of the other stars was 12-string guitarist Barbarito Torres. A projection screen intermittently displayed photos and film clips of various departed members including Ibrahim Ferrer and Compay Segundo. Sadly, Adios.