Saturday, September 27, 2014

Getting Social: Buena Vista Social Club and "Chan Chan"



The random tune for today is from a breakout recording in the 1990s that brought the world's attention to music in pre-Castro Cuba. Chan Chan is a song from the Buena Vista Social Club, which centered on musicians who met and performed together at a popular club in Havana in the 1940s at a time when new Latin styles were being created. After Juan de Marcos González and Ry Cooder assembled a number of musicians that had played there and recorded them for a CD in 1997, they were invited to play as a full ensemble in Amsterdam where filmmaker Wim Wenders captured the performance on film and interspersed that footage with interviews of the musicians in a documentary called Buena Vista Social Club. The documentary went on to receive an Academy Award nomination, and made stars of the once forgotten musicians as well as reviving interest in Cuban music and Latin music in general. Chan Chan is in a "son" style, and was composed by Compay Segundo with Eliades Ochoa on lead vocals. It can be found on the 1997 CD Buena Vista Social Club. Interesting postscript - Ry Cooder was fined $25,000 by the US government for breaking the Trading with the Enemy Act in regard to the Cuban embargo.