Buena Vistas passion burning bright in a new generation
After a near 40-year hiatus, Cuba’s music has rejoined cigars, rum and Ché Guevara pop-art t-shirts at the top of the island’s list of most successful exports.
Despite the musical talent that is so obviously ingrained into Cuba’s musicians, its rediscovery on the world music stage only stretches back as far as 1997. This was when the slide blues guitarist and producer, Ry Cooder, was inspired to form the Cuban supergroup Buena Vista Social Club.
The group took its name, inspiration and the majority of its members from a dance hall in Havana that closed its doors over 50 years ago. Their self-titled debut album went on to sell millions of copies and made stars of Cuban musicians such as Ibrahim Ferrer, Rubén González, and Compay Segundo. It also resulted in follow-up recordings, a film and a world tour, but most importantly in the years that have followed, scores of Cuban singers and musicians have been given the opportunity to make recordings for foreign labels and tour internationally. One of these groups is Pasión de Buena Vista.
While Pasión de Buena Vista may share part of their name and musical style with the original group, not only do they live up to their musical reputation, but in terms of on-stage performance, they go well beyond what the group of 80-somethings would be capable of. No detail has been overlooked in the group’s attempt to create the feeling of an authentic Caribbean night during their show.
The performance on Friday will feature a team of seven dancers, dressed in tailor-made costumes, perform everything from the rumba to the salsa. Their efforts will be supported by video projections and a stage design befitting a Havana dancehall.
Accompanying the dancers is an eleven-piece orchestra that promises to communicate every aspect of the Cuban music tradition.
This is a style of music that has developed considerably over the last century. In addition to the usual synthesis of African percussion instruments and Spanish ‘coplas’ supported by a three double-stringed guitar, it now regularly includes instruments like the claves, maracas, the wooden bass, bongos and even trumpets, which emanate from American Big-Bands.
In front of this large ensemble, and promising to steal the show, are singers Pachin Inocencio and Mariela Stiven.
Inocencio, who is normally dressed in a pale linen suit and white cap, has been playing percussion and singing for the best part of 70 years. In that time he has come a long way since crooning on balconies in Havana for a few pesos at a time. He has sung for a number of orchestras and performed alongside Cuban music legends Ibrahim Ferrer and Omara Portuondo from the Buena Vista Social Club.
Stiven, who is significantly younger but no less formidable, was discovered in 1989 by the composer Cándido Fabre. After graduating from a famed music academy in Havana, she has played at festivals both inside and outside Cuba and has received a number of honours. Foremost among these was her appointment as Omara Portuondo’s successor as the future ambassador of Cuban music.
Pasión de Buena Vista have toured extensively across Europe and the US, pleasing thousands of fans in the process. Their performance on Friday promises an insight into some of the most enigmatic music of the last century, and it should not be missed.
Pasión de Buena Vista
Amager Bio, Øresundsvej 6, Cph S;
Fri 20:00 (dance show), 22:30 (concert);
Tickets: dance show & concert: 350kr, concert: 150kr, www.elstudio.nemtilmel.dk or cash at the door;www.pasiondebuena-vista.com, www.cubacultur.dk