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Buena Vista Social Club Presents Manuel 'Guajiro' Mirabal

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  • 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.

About this Album

Trumpet player Manuel "Guajiro" Mirabal, who has played an integral part in the Buena Vista Social Club series of recordings and tours, makes his solo recording debut on World Circuit / Nonesuch Records. The album, which was released in the US in 2005, is a tribute to the legendary giant of Cuban music, Arsenio Rodríguez. All of the tracks on the album were written by, or are associated with, Rodríguez and are performed by a specially assembled group in the mould of Arsenio’s great trumpet-led conjuntos of the 1940s and '50s. The Sunday Times (UK) says the record “effortlessly conjures the sound of Rodriguez in all his raucous glory.”

Mirabal has been a key figure in the Cuban music scene for more than 50 years and has played with numerous acclaimed musicians. He is featured on seminal World Circuit / Nonesuch albums such as Buena Vista Social Club, the Afro-Cuban All Stars' A Toda Cuba Le Gusta, and Introducing ... Rubén González. The trumpet occupies a hugely important role within Cuban music, and Guajiro is widely considered his instrument’s archetypal exponent.

Nicknamed "El Ciego Maravilloso" (The Blind Marvel), Arsenio Rodríguez was a revolutionary figure, completely transforming the sound and definition of Cuban music. An expert in Congolese rhythms, he pushed African influences to the fore, refashioning the traditional septeto by adding the conga drum and two extra trumpets to give it much more power and scope, setting his syncopated tres style against the percussion. His innovative use of the piano began with a young Rubén González, who played on Rodríguez’s first recording in 1943, and developed over the years with Lili Martínez. When Rodríguez moved to New York in 1950, trumpeter Felix Chappottín assumed the mantle of bandleader; Chappottín, along with Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros, was instrumental in the emergence of trumpets within the conjunto through their work with Rodríguez, and Mirabal is the heir to that tradition. Rodríguez’s music is deceptively simple, but extremely difficult to perform.

Recorded in Havana’s famous Egrem studios, the ensemble featured on Buena Vista Social Club Presents Manuel "Guajiro" Mirabal is an A-list cast of Cuba’s finest musicians. A driving percussion section—including Miguel "Angá" Díaz, Amadito Valdés, and Carlos González—joins Orlando "Cachaíto" López on double-bass, Roberto Fonseca on keyboards, and Manuel Galbán on acoustic guitar. Vocalists on the album include Calunga, a rising star of the timba scene in Cuba, and Ibrahim Ferrer, who makes a guest appearance on the album, singing lead on “Deuda.” The all-important trumpet section consists of Mirabal, his Tropicana partner of almost 30 years, Luis Alemañy, and the late Alejandro Pichardo Pérez, to whom this album is dedicated. Featured soloists on the album include Papi Oviedo on tres and Roberto Fonseca on piano. The closing track, “Dombe Dombe,” features Arsenio Rodríguez’s original pianist, the great Rubén González, performing a piece that he specifically requested be included on this album.

The album was recorded almost entirely live in the studio, with minimal overdubs. For producer Nick Gold, this album has been a real labor of love and, for Mirabal, it is a great thrill to be finally making his solo album debut at 71; as he says “Everything comes in time.”


Manuel "Guajiro" Mirabal, trumpet
Luis Alemány Conde, trumpet
Alejandro Pichardo, trumpet
Roberto Fonseca, piano
Papi Oviedo, tres
Manuel Galbán, guitar
Orlando "Cachaíto" López, bass
Miguel "Angá" Diaz, congas
Carlos González, bongos
Amadito Valdéz, timbales
Enrique Lazaga, guiro
Alberto "Virgilio" Valdéz, maracas
Carlos M. Calunga, lead vocals (1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 10)
Ibrahim Ferrer, lead vocals (3)
Pepe Maza, duet vocals (3, 7)
Demetrio Muñiz, duet vocals (7)
Diego Ramon Palacio, lead vocals (4)
Aldo Del Rio, lead vocals (8)
Tirso Oriol Duarte Lescay, lead and duet vocals (10)
Yuare Muñiz, trumpet (6, 8)
Jose "Maracaibo" Casteneda, tres (3, 4)
Johnny Neptuno, tres (5, 9)
Rubén González, piano (11)
Policarpo "Polo" Tamayo, flute (4)
Jesús "Aguaje" Ramos, trombone (3)
Roberto García, bongos (3)
Pepe Maza, clave (1, 6)
Javier Zalba, alto & baritone saxophones (6, 8)
Alfred Thompson, tenor saxophone (8)
Antonio Jimenez, tenor saxophone (6, 8)
Rolando Sánchez, alto saxophone (8)
Ventura Gutiérrez, baritone saxophone; Pantaleón Sánchez, alto saxophone; Rafael "Jimmy" Jenks, tenor saxophone (6)
Carlos Manuel Calunga, Diego Coppinger, Tirso Oriol Duarte Lescay, Juan de Marcos González, Pepe Maza, Manuel Denis Martínez, Lázaro Miguel, Diego Ramon Palacio, Jesus ‘Aguaje’ Ramos, Lázaro Villa, Victor Villa, coro


A World Circuit Production
Produced by Nick Gold
Recorded and mixed by Jerry Boys
Musical Director: Demetrio Muñiz
Recorded at Egrem Studios, Havana
Mixed at Livingston Studios, London
Mastered by Tom Leader and Jerry Boys
Production Supervisor: Sara Daoud

All songs by Aresnio Rodríguez Scull, except tracks 2 arr. Arsenio Rodríguez Scull, 3 by Luis Marquetti, 7 by Jacinto Rodríguez Scull, 9 by Luis ‘Lili’ Martínez Griñan, 10 by Otilio Del Portal / Arsenio Rodríguez Scull, 11 arr. Rubén González

Photography by Christina Jaspers
Design by


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

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