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Buena Vista Social Club

Buena Vista Social Club cover art

Track Listing

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1Chan Chan (Francisco Repilado)4:16
2De Camino a la Vereda (Ibrahim Ferrer)5:03
3El Cuarto de Tula (Sergio Siaba)7:27
4Pueblo Nuevo6:05
5Dos Gardenias (Isolina Carillo)3:02
6¿Y Tú Qué Has Hecho? (Eusebio Delfín)3:13
7Veinte Años (María Teresa Vera)3:29
8El Carretero (Guillermo Portabales)3:28
9Candela (Faustino Oramas)5:27
10Amor de loca Juventud (Rafael Ortiz)3:21
11Orgullecida (Eliseo Silveria)3:18
12Murmullo (Electo Rosell Chepín)3:50
13Buena Vista Social Club (Israel López)4:50
14La Bayamesa (Sindo Garay)2:54

News & Reviews

  • Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club to Tour US, Featuring Omara Portuondo, Guajiro Mirabal, Barbarito Torres, Eliades Ochoa

    On September 14, Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club brings its world tour to the US for a run of dates that will hit New York, San Francisco, Austin, Atlanta, Indianapolis, and more. The 15-member lineup includes Latin Grammy Award winners Omara Portuondo and Eliades Ochoa, trumpeter Guajiro Mirabal, and laúd virtuoso Barbarito Torres, all of whom count themselves among the original members of Buena Vista Social Club. Opening a number of concerts with his quintet will be Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca.

  • The Guardian's List of 50 Key Events in the History of World, Folk Music Includes Several Ties to Nonesuch

    The Guardian and Observer have published their list of the 50 key events in the history of world and folk music, which includes four events that also have a direct link to the history of Nonesuch Records, events involving Ry Cooder and the Buena Vista Social Club, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, Youssou N'Dour, and Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, and one that would later impact Kronos Quartet.

About this Album

1997 Grammy Award Winner

The original idea behind Buena Vista was to record a collaboration between a number of African and Cuban guitarists. World Circuit’s Nick Gold invited Ry Cooder to participate, having worked together before on Ali Farka Touré’s 1994 Grammy Award–winning Talking Timbuktu. Cooder replied within hours saying he would be there. The Africans failed to make the trip, but recording went ahead anyway.

"Buena Vista Social Club" is both the name given to this extraordinary pool of musicians and the album, recorded in just six days in Havana’s 1950s vintage Egrem studios. The album has an intimate, natural charm that comes from musicians totally at ease with other, sharing a deep passion and understanding for the music and playing a repertoire suggested by themselves. Arrangements and instrumentation were worked out during recording according to the feel of the individual songs, and the vast majority of the performances were recorded "live" in one or two takes.

The oldest musician on the album is the 89-year-old giant of Cuban music, guitarist and vocalist Compay Segundo. According to Cooder, “the whole album turned on Compay. He was the fulcrum, the pivot. He knew all the best songs and the way to do them. Well, he’s been doing them since World War One.” Featured on vocals is 70-year-old Ibrahim Ferrer, a star from the 1950s who was literally called in off the streets on the first day of recording after years of musical inactivity. Also on vocals is the great bolero singer Omara Portuondo, whom Cooder calls “the Edith Piaf of Cuba.” Omara happened to be in the studio lobby and Cooder invited her upstairs to record. On guitar and vocals is Eliades Ochoa, the great country musician who was flown in for these recordings from Santiago in the east of Cuba. On piano is the brilliant Rubén González, veteran of Arsenio Rodríguez’s early 1940s band whom Cooder describes as “the greatest piano soloist I have ever heard in my life.”

These featured musicians are joined by a host of Cuba’s finest players, including Orlando "Cachaíto" López on bass, Manuel "Guajiro" Mirabal on trumpet, and the percussionists from the band Sierra Maestra.

The album includes a wide variety of Cuban styles, from the city sounds of Havana to the country style of Santiago, and the songs cover a range of the Island’s history from "La Bayamesa" written in 1869 to "Chan Chan," a contemporary composition by Compay Segundo.


Luis Barzaga, backing vocals (2), chorus vocals (3,9)
Joachim Cooder, udu drum (1, 4, 5, 8, 12, 13), dumbek (2, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11), conga (3), drums (11)
Ry Cooder, guitars (1-7, 11-13); mbira (2, 8); oud, bolon, floor slide, percussion (8); acoustic and electric slide guitars (9); slide guitars (10)
Julio Alberto Fernandez, vocals (10), maracas (10)
Ibrahim Ferrer,  backing vocals (1, 8), vocals (2, 3, 5, 9, 12, 14), conga (4), clave (6, 13), bongos (10)
Carlos Gonzalez, bongos (1, 3 ,9), cowbell (3, 9)
Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, backing vocals (2, 8), conductor (3, 9), guiro (8), chorus vocals (9)
Ruben Gonzalez, piano (5, 6, 11-14)
Salvador Repilado Labrada, bass (10)
Manuel "Puntillita" Licea, backing vocals (2), lead vocal (3), chorus vocals (9), congas (13), vocal (14)
Orlando "Cachaíto" López, bass (1-9, 11-14)
Benito Suárez Magana, guitar (10)
Manuel "Guajiro" Mirabal, trumpet (1-6, 9, 11)
Eliades Ochoa, vocal (1, 3, 8, 9), guitar (1, 3, 8, 9, 11)
Omara Portuondo, vocal (7)
Julienne Oviedo Sánchez, timbales (3)
Compay Segundo, backing vocals (1, 6, 7, 10, 11, 14), congas (1), guitar (2, 6, 7, 10, 11, 14)
Barbarito Torres, laoud (2, 3, 7)
Alberto "Virgilio" Valdéz, maracas (1, 3-9, 12, 13), backing vocals (2), chorus vocals (3, 9)
Lázaro Villa, güiro (4, 13), congas (5, 12)

Produced by Ry Cooder
Recorded and mixed by Jerry Boys
Mastered by Bernie Grundman
Recorded at Egrem Studios, Havana, Cuba, March 1996
Additional recording: Larry Hirsch at Ocean Way Studios, Los Angeles
Mixed at Livingston Studios, London

Design by The Team
Photography by Susan Titelman
Executive Producer: Nick Gold


This album is available from Nonesuch in the United States and Canada only.

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