When: Sat., Oct. 17, 7:30 p.m. 2015
The release of the Buena Vista Social Club’s eponymous album in 1997 was something of a musical equivalent to uncovering the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Cuban sound had been ubiquitous in American culture through the 1940s and ‘50s, be it through Dizzy Gillespie’s famed Afro-Cuban Orchestra or Desi Arnaz’s portrayal as bandleader Ricky Ricardo on I Love Lucy, then with the embargo in 1960 … nothing. The signal went silent. It was easy to imagine, at least from an American perspective, that all the musical, artistic and cultural energy emanating from Cuba just stopped cold with the rise of Fidel Castro and communism. This made the Buena Vista Social Club all the more special: Here was a vanished form, assumed lost for good, suddenly rebroadcasting, and sounding more vibrant than ever. That the voices behind that record — bandleader Compay Segundo, singer Ibrahim Ferrer, pianist Rubén González — were the same musicians that had captured American audiences before the embargo, made the LP’s impact that much more substantial. Nearly two decades have passed since Buena Vista emerged from Havana, and those audiences have kept feeling their sound in sold-out shows the world over. To maintain the vitality of the band, Buena Vista has invited a cast of modern Cuban musicians into the fold to further push the sound. Despite the band’s many senior members, they’ve never failed to come alive in concert, a tradition that’s continued from their historic first appearances in Havana up through their upcoming show this Saturday at Laurie Auditorium.