Lost and Found
Nearly two decades have passed since the release of Buena Vista Social Club’s eponymous, Grammy-winning album. The intervening years have seen the production of a documentary, a sold-out show at Carnegie Hall, world tours and subsequent spin-off albums by original members, many of whom have since passed away. But time stands still in Havana. At the legendary Egrem Studios, a trove of unreleased BVSC material remained dormant until now.
The new album, Lost and Found, unearths 14 tracks, some recorded during the initial storied sessions in 1996. Later cuts stretch into the early 2000s, recorded for various solo albums born out of BVSC’s international success.
However, Lost and Found’s most vibrant moments are the live performances. They capture the magic and awe of musicians who were given a second chance and ran with it. You can hear it on the late vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer’s silky rendition of Benny Moré’s classic 1950s bolero “Como Fue.” It was Ferrer’s dream to perform that song backed by a brassy big band. And that dream came true many times, later in life — on this particular occasion, on a Parisian stage. A trace of that genuine incredulity can also be heard within the elegant romanticism of an unaccompanied Rubén González, performing “Como Siento Yo” on piano. The track was recorded in London during the late pianist’s first concert tour following his solo debut disc.
In-studio gems include “Macusa,” a Santiago-styled son sung by the late Compay Segundo with Eliades Ochoa on guitar and second vocals, and “Black Chicken 37,” an improvised descarga pitting the late Orlando “Cachaíto” López’s bass against the weaving needlepoint violin of the late Pedro Depestre. In the background, the late Miguel “Angá” Díaz’s mystical congas lead a percussion section that comprises timbales, bongos and maracas, reminding listeners that Cuba’s musical legacy lies deeply rooted in a place untouched by time. —Lissette Corsa