A historical, elegant album that engraved Cuban music’s footprint in the the world of music, Buena Vista Social Club is a perfected ode to the life of the club whence it came.
The Buena Vista Social Club was a members’ club in Havana, Cuba, that closed in the 1940s, as well as a 1990s band, a 1997 album, a 1999 film, and an unofficial brand name representing the musical spirit of the original Havana club.
The original Buena Vista Social Club held dances and musical activities, becoming a popular location for musicians to meet and play during the 1940s. In the 1990s, nearly 50 years after the club was closed, it inspired a recording made by Cuban musician Juan de Marcos González and American guitarist Ry Cooder with traditional Cuban musicians, some of whom were veterans who had performed at the club during the height of its popularity.
The recording, named Buena Vista Social Club after the Havana institution, became an international success. It sparked a revival of interest in traditional Cuban music and Latin American music in general. Some of the Cuban performers later released well-received solo albums and recorded collaborations with stars from different musical genres.
The “Buena Vista Social Club” name became an umbrella term to describe these performances and releases, and has been likened to a brand label that encapsulates Cuba’s “musical golden age” between the 1930s and 1950s. The new success was fleeting for the most recognizable artists in the ensemble: Compay Segundo, Rubén González, and Ibrahim Ferrer, who died at the ages of ninety-five, eighty-four, and seventy-eight respectively; Segundo and González in 2003, then Ferrer in 2005.