Nearly a decade after the phenomenal success of their first album on the World Circuit label, the original Buena Vista Social Club members have been gradually snuffed out. Ruben Gonzalez, Compay Segundo and Ibrahim Ferrer have all left, followed recently by the less well-known singer Pio Leyva.
Those venerable masters are gradually being replaced by a slightly younger generation, with this tour spotlighting members who have also been involved from the beginning. Manuel "Guajiro" Mirabal (trumpet), Cachaito Lopez (bass) and Manuel Galban (extremely twangy guitar) have all released solo albums, supported by the Social Club's swirling pool of players. The trombonist Jesus "Aguaje" Ramos is a relative newcomer, but his own album is promised later this year.
The most recent release, Guajiro's brilliant self-titled session, from 2004, is closest to the current Buena Vista, given that Cachaito's disc took in funk and hip-hop, and Galban's was a reissue from his 1960s doo-wop group, Los Zafiros.
This is essentially the same band from Ferrer's final tour, with the emphasis now on instrumental prowess. The two singers (along with Ramos) claim several numbers, but they enhance the material rather than dominate the show with charismatic flash.
Withthe old guard gone, the stance is modernised. The music's soft glow has been replaced by a brashly burning New York neon. Pianist Roberto Fonseca hammers out block-chord shapes in salsa fashion, and the horn section sears with funk-soul precision.
Galban is a Fifties throwback, endlessly reverberating his guitar, hair greased back as he provides a couple of nostalgic interludes on his eerie organ. A couple of his shimmering guitar solos begin magically, then tail off, and he appears slightly distracted.
Cachaito strums out weighty bass phrases, only smiling once or twice. Guajiro's trumpet solos crackle with nimble intensity, and he could have been given even more space to shine. Ramos contributes some vocals, and acts as the emcee, in between some full-bodied yet lightly enunciated trombone solos.
This 100-minute show's encore fully illustrated how much the band can levitate, taking the atmosphere up to a breathless level. But there were hints of their real potential, when that special vibration between band and audience is harnessed.Reuse content