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"Incomparable" Omara and OBVSC say Adios in final Havana concert

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Monday May 16, 2016

From Rolling Stone
By Winston Manfred

Buena Vista Social Club Return Home for Historic Cuba Show

It’s been 20 years since Ry Cooder, British producer Nick Gold and Cuban musical director Juan de Marcos Gonzalez assembled a group of veteran Cuban musicians, christened them Buena Vista Social Club and recorded an album that would become a global phenomenon and sell more than 12 million copies worldwide. (And earn a spot on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Albums of the Nineties.) Since then, the name – taken from a pre-revolution members-only club – has become as much brand as band, spawning an Oscar-nominated film, renewed interest in Cuban music and spinoff group Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club.

It’s the latter – comprised of four original members alongside family members of the original group and other players – that has kept the name active despite the deaths of multiple legends like Ibrahim Ferrer, Compay Segundo and Ruben Gonzalez. After an extensive “Adios Tour” around the world, the group returned to Havana’s Teatro Karl Marx Saturday night for a rapturous first of two shows.

Saturday’s concert was many things: a joyous victory lap; a mournful group eulogy; an act of historical preservation (a new documentary on the group is set for release next year); a nostalgia trip of traditional Cuban styles like son, mambo, guajira and bolero. But above all, it was a showcase and testament to the virtuosic skill of the current original players: laud player Barbarito Torres, guitarist Eliades Ochoa, trumpeter Manuel Mirabel and the incomparable vocalist Omara Portuondo.

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