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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Buena Vista Social Club

Buena Vista Social Club

1997

Buena Vista Social Club

Album Summary

Buena Vista Social Club is the debut album by the Buena Vista Social Club, an ensemble of Cuban musicians directed by Juan de Marcos González and American guitarist Ry Cooder. It was recorded at Havana's EGREM studios in March 1996 and released on September 16, 1997, on World Circuit. It is the only standard studio album exclusively credited to the Buena Vista Social Club. Buena Vista Social Club was recorded in parallel with A toda Cuba le gusta by the Afro-Cuban All Stars, a similar project also promoted by World Circuit executive Nick Gold and featuring largely the same lineup. In contrast to A toda Cuba le gusta, which was conceived as a revival of the son conjunto, Buena Vista Social Club was meant to bring back the traditional trova and filin, a mellower take on the Cuban son and bolero, as well as the danzón. A critical and commercial success, the album's release was followed by a short concert tour in Amsterdam and New York's Carnegie Hall in 1998. Footage from these dates, together with the recording sessions in Havana, were shown on the Buena Vista Social Club documentary by Wim Wenders, released in 1999. In 2022, The album was selected for preservation in the United States National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally historically or aesthetically significant".

Wikipedia

Rating

3.62

Votes

4990

Genres

  • Jazz
  • World
Reviews
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3

I felt like a sexy latino on a sun drenched beach in a quiet fishing town in Cuba sipping pina coladas and smiling at the world. Then I got angry that I wasn't on a beach in the sun, drinking and punched a wall.

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2

Blended harmonies, sugary melodies, complementary percussion, buttery voices. A pleasing medley it'd be churlish to pretend isn't, well, pleasing. So I happily tolerated it and would be unlikely to object if I ever heard it again even though ultimately polite musicianship doesn't lift, cleanse or scratch my soul and music that tends too agreeable makes me a tad dis. If that sounds contrarian I guess that's because, to an extent, that's how I like my music - with contradictions and contradistinctions. To put it in a less assholish way: I tuned out a lot That seems to be part of the design here, which I don't get. That's like opting to get your hair stroked when you could get your butthole eaten ;) Okay, now I am being churlish. It was very pleasant.

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4

Well, that was an unexpected joy to listen to. I don't understand a word they're saying but dang if I don't wish I did. They seem to be having so much fun. In some ways, I'm glad I couldn't understand what was being said. It made the whole album into a killer soundtrack for work that enhanced the experience but didn't distract me from the words I was writing. Musicality is so on point it should be bleeding. Just really great.

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2

This is not music I would normally listen to, but I can appreciate its quality nonetheless. The record starts of well with the energy and swing of Chan Chan and El Cuarto, but Pueblo Nuevo's, or danzon in general, is not something I would find time in my day to listen to. The slower Dos Gardeniaas and Veinte Anos bored me quite a bit. This is a well executed and original album, but it does not fit my music taste very well. Overall score is a 4/10.

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1

Not in English.

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5

❤️

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5

What a way to while away a dark Monday morning. Instantly transported to a cool Cuban bar, with swaying rhythms and cocktails to hand. Perfect.

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4

What a refreshing album from a talented group of Cubanos. I can definitely see myself spinning this again in the future in order to set a mood, transport myself to another place, dance, or meditate on our brothers and sisters in this intriguing country. I can hear joy and pain in each song, much like Jamaican reggae or Latin/Mexican mariachi music. I am ready to get out of this country and hide in someone else's culture for a while....

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2

Fuck no! First world, early new century granola eaters going to have their latte to the fair and inclusive café right in their basement, and feeling great about themselves for oh such an open view on the world around them. Bleurgh!

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5

Even though it compiles lots of different musicians, there is a great flow to this album. I particularly enjoyed the piano tracks. Highly recommended!

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5

Cool!

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5

Perfect jazz album. Really took me to an happier place

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5

Buena vista social club - cuban like!!!

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5

What a beautiful album.

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5

This was a wonderful album to have on in the background while I worked today. Loving the latin sounds.

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5

Absolutely joyous.

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5

Some fantastic stuff on here bringing that kind of Latin jazz back to the forefront

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5

Fantastic album, well worth a listen.

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5

Sin lugar a dudas. Solo es cinco porque no hay seis.

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5

I need to listen to more latin jazz.

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5

Perfect

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5

I heard “Chan Chan” in college in…music theory, I think? Anyway, I really liked that song, so I anticipate liking the rest of the album. Yes, I absolutely loved this album. It was so relaxing and beautiful and just good. I should download it.

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5

This was so uplifting, relaxing and coooool. I really enjoyed it

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5

I love this album. Haven’t listened to it in a long time. It’s the spirit of Cuba - and by extension - the Caribbean. The songs have a folk-tune, comforting quality to them that transfers to the listener, even if you can’t understand all the lyrics.

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5

All-time classic. Always enjoy listening to this, front to back.

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5

Cannot beat this classic! Truly beautiful music from la isla. I played this for my abuelo and he wept.

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5

maravillosa musica cubana

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5

Muy bueno y sabroso

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5

Lovely album. Really enjoyed the Cuban vibes and African overtones. Dad enjoyed it too. I made him listen in the car. I would most certainly listen to this again

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5

Classic, no surprises

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5

Buena vista!!!!

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5

Memories 😊

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5

It's the cheesy backpacker hostel mainstay, but still warms my cold heart

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4

Whoa, nice! So soon we're back in Havana! I recognized this name immediately, and I realized that's because there's a documentary by Wim Wenders about this project that's in the Criterion Collection. I'm not sure what I expected, but it wasn't this. This is some great Cuban music--less jazzy, and more organic than what we heard on Machito. At points I think it could use more energy, particularly in the vocal performances, but it's still a trip worth taking. I could never dislike an album like this. Inevitably though, when it comes to Latin-American music, I can't help but compare what I hear to Totó La Momposina's "Pacantó," which is one of my all-time favorite albums. This doesn't reach the same high-water mark for me, but it's still great. Lots on here to love. Favorite tracks: El Carretero, Chan Chan, El Cuarto de Tula. Album cover: Pretty simple photograph, but I think it's mostly effective. I really like the BVSC stamp, that's a really cool design. But I also think they could've gone with a more exciting, more culturally indicative picture. Actually, this reminds me of that Oasis album cover, What's the Story, Morning Glory. That was two years before this, so maybe these Cubans were huge fans paying homage to their love of Wonderwall. 4/5

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5

Love this album, always feels like a tropical escape. Great songs, wonderful feeling I get from it. All in all fantastic for an album where I don’t understand a single word.

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5

Love it. Mum had this album and a live DVD too ... remember this album cover vividly

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5

Class album

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5

Classic.

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5

I was introduced to this album by my Chinese-Brazilian roommate along with a bunch of bossanova stuff. I played this one and Joao Gilberto Live in Montreux endlessly for months, and I still come back to this one frequently. It's even on my regular running playlist. I just love it.

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5

Un album recontra escuchado. Joya de músicos.

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5

This is sublime, loved every song.

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5

Heard this when it was released. Ridiculously enjoyable and authentic. One of my go to albums when I'm looking for something different.

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5

La joya de cuba.

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5

Such a fantastic album, Ry Cooder is a national treasure.

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5

Absolutely impeccable Cuban music. The artistry and lyrical genius on here is hard to deny. Near perfect. Will always put this on if I have a rainy day.

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5

Gawd, this is so good. Absolutely heartfelt and timeless.

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5

Love it start to finish. Timeless. Contains all life itself.

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5

I mean, its an all time classic of all time! The idea behind Buena Vista Social Club was to revive pre-revolutionary music of Cuba, listening to this record definitely paints that landscape.

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5

Classic

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5

I haven't listened to a lot of cuban music so this was a real treat to listen to critically. Well produced with a lot of beautiful musicianship on display. Favorite Song: Dos Gardenias

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5

Brilliant for any occasion

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5

Top notch chill Cuban music. Maybe best for background listening?

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5

Great to revisit this one.

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5

Calming, Latin

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5

Awesome vibes

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5

Excellent album that brings together a who's who of Cuban musicians to create something truly wonderful. This album is at once listenable, danceable, and features some amazing musicianship and arrangement. This will going into my rotation.

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5

Amazing bossa nova album I absolutely love this album its sooooo good. The mood the instrumentation even tho I have no idea what they're saying. I feel like I'm being transported to Cuba with a cigar in my mouth. 9.5/10

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5

Claro que sí, por favor

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5

Not sure I could manage the whole album in 1 go but this is a significant enough album from the late 90s that was part of me visiting Cuba so marked up

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5

Great world afro-cuban album.

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5

J'ai noté l'album de living color 5/5 au lieu de cette album. Mais living color est 4.15 et celui ci est 5/5. Vraiment un classique. Tellement bon.

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5

A great album, got some heavy listening from me and friends back in the day.

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5

I think this is a great thing, a true artifact in culture. It has its imperfections but for what it is in itself, about perfect

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5

Delightful. Really enjoyed it.

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5

i am shocked 81920480218409281094/10

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5

Listened to this one for pretty much an entire day, the composition is amazing and absolutely fantastic as background music for a relaxed diner. It does really feel like it was recorded in a Cuban social club, and the album is amazing for it.

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5

Just awesome.

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5

This album got into myy soull every song but especially camino vereda and the womans songs

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5

Acere, que bola!

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5

HERMOSO

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5

I love this album! So good, and Ry Cooder's musical contributions don't stick out.

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5

Cuba's best musicians gathered together in 1997 to recreate the island sound of the 40's and 50's. This is what resulted and its fucking magical. Authentic and timeless. 5/5

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5

It's a classic, listened to this a lot growing up. It's impressive how an album from a genre that normally gets very little exposure became this popular

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5

Great album. Always loved this one.

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5

Groovy

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5

Great album! Introduces the world to Cuban music, I guess. But I love the beats and the instruments. Great variation in the music, all are excellent

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5

New one for me. Nice for cooking.

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5

I love this album. They have such a unique and pure sound. It's one of those albums that speak directly to your heart and feels like a balm to the soul.

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5

Beautiful album. Not a wild range, but the instrumentation worked wonderfully for what it was. I love this album-a-day!

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5

A beautiful classic.

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5

I just love this album, a lot of nostalgia for me with this one. Masterfully Cubano.

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5

5/5. Historical, very lovely, nuff said

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5

Maravilhoso d+

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5

Fantastisch album voor bij een zomers weertje! Direct in Cubaanse sferen vanaf de eerste noot. Een uurtje genieten!

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5

I loved it. It is a great album.

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5

I love this so fucking much, god I wanna go to Sicilly. Even though it's Cuban. And they speak spanish. But it's close and I still love it too much to give it less than top score.

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5

Love it!

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5

Really like this album, so summery and uplifting

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5

have already listened to this a billion times

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5

If you think I'm giving less than 5 stars then clearly you hain't been paying attention. Ibrahim Ferrer is one of my musical heroes. I've oddly never heard this, but I've had Rhythms del Mundo on moderately heavy rotation for about 15 years now.

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5

Amazing album as always

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5

This album was such a revelation

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5

Fuck yeah, love this shit so much.

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5

04/28/2022 Solid album!

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5

Classico y maravilloso

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5

I’m in love. Completely enamored.

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5

Pure perfection

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5

Masterful. I love everything about this album.

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5

I enjoyed every minute of this. The story of the making of the album almost seems apocryphal. Best track: Chan Chan

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5

A classic!

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5

Great vibe throughout. Musicianship and cultural importance meets on this album. Sometimes the impact outstrips the actual music and this is one such case. Deservedly considered a classic.

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5

Fast, fun and has a warm acoustic sound

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5

Came across this before on another chart. It's pretty highly regarded and plays well- soothing and transporting so it's mood music. You don't need to know what they're singing about. In fact that helps to concentrate on the music. Highly accomplished ensemble - smooth and co-ordinated and although this grates on some people it really hits the spot with me. Superb.

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5

Like a refreshing sip of iced cool water, an immense breath of fresh air, a much needed sigh after undergoing a repetitious round of heavy lifting. No amount of language barriers can contain the musical synchronicity present in this album, a complete blessing from a country that was once forbidden and sequestered. No club is cooler than the Buena Vista Social Club.

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5

Beautiful through and through

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5

Great!

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5

Chan Chan is the best!

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5

Didn't listen in full but 3/4 of the album, it's pretty fucking awesome, really liked the instrumental. Really chill sound

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5

Love for chill summer listening vibes. A classic

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5

Any excuse to stick this on. Also it's the 25th anniversary of its release next week. First heard 6-7 years after its release, and then went mad for the sound, grabbing compilations of Compay Segundo and Omara Purtuondo's stuff. It is, obviously, wonderfully transportative music that could lift any mood. Just great.

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5

Classic. Great one. The second half is the best part for me. Maybe because I hear a lot less than the first one. Easy five.

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5

After listening to just the first track, one can easily see why this is one of the greatest albums of all time. While I cannot understand the lyrics, the instruments all complement each other very well, the mixing is unlike anything I’ve heard, and the musical content is outstanding. It is a very layered album that I can’t wait to listen to many more times in the future. Also, I cannot believe this came out in 1997! The mix and master alone can easily pass as being from the 2010s.

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5

In my all-time top 10

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5

Lyden av barndom for min del: denne ble spilt masse hjemme! Kanskje jeg er nostalgisk, men liker denne fryktelig godt.

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5

<3

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5

Excellent album that I'm really happy to see on this list. It really takes you to a place. Good music of any specific culture will tend to do that, but there are some real magical things happening here that transport me to Cuba. I'm pretty sure this is the one album that is played on loop at our local Latin restaurant. Solid all around!

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5

I love this album. The music is magic. You can’t ask for a better album to put on when cleaning the house. The pianist, Rubén González, is phenomenal. He had such a light, playful touch. I’ve listened to some of his solo albums too and for a period of time they were my go-to choice when I was stressed or anxious. When you focus on his piano playing, it’s impossible to not smile. “Pueblo Nuevo” on this album is a great showcase for his playing.

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5

Really good album, And danceable!

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4

3/1 Great album, wish I was there. Standout Tracks: El Cuarto de Tula, Dos Gardenias, Veinte Años, Candela, Amor de Loca Juventud, Buena Vista Social Club

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4

8/10 FT: Amor de loca juventud

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4

Chill. Vibes. Feeling the roots.

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4

Finally, a jazz (adjacent) album! This one’s a classic for sure, brings me back to my Afro Latin & Carribbean Music course I took at Columbia.

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4

An alum I already know. Beautiful. I'll enjoy getting to know this again.

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4

Move your feet to the Cuban beat, unless you don’t have any feet

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4

I'm not sure if I like this album because it's just different from so much of my music. Or if it's really that good. I think it's good.

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4

one part mariachi, one part classy as fuck dinner party music.

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4

Pleasant latin music

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4

this is peak cuban music i really felt like i was just chilling in havana and i've never even been

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4

Good album, a bit long and samey. I love the salsa vibe from a lot of it. Not amazing but solid

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4

Sigo escuchando ese disco cada cierto tiempo en uno de esos dominguitos desqueahacerados.

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4

Just happy vibes.

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4

I feel it

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4

Writing this review last minute so it'll be a shorter one. This album has some serious classics on it! There's many songs I've heard on this before but I never knew it was this band. These songs are much more traditional and folky than our previous venture into the afro-cuban msuic scene, so this was a unique experience. This is a solid album with a lot of cuban "bangers" that create a nice and pleasant atmosphere, while expertly executed, left me wanting more artistically. But overall, I had a great time listening to it.

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4

Damn good

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4

Very good Cuban sound

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4

Beautiful Latin sound. Didn’t have as strong as a finish as I wanted, but a pleasure to listen to regardless

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4

Have you seen Chef?

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4

Quisiera darles 5 en pero sería yo muy barco. De cualquier forma no tiene desperdicio.

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4

Cuba

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4

Great recording, many latino great songs and themes, Cuba is in many ways linked to México and we’ve always loved the BVSC

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4

Concept album!

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4

What's not to like!? Hazy, sunny Cuban music in dreary British January.

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4

Great example of Afro-Cuban jazz. Pueblo Nuevo is stinky, but every other track is great. 8/10, didn't know they had 20 members.

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4

Vibe

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4

Compay ... etc

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4

This one was a great Latin music album. Worth it!

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4

Another fantastic jazz album! I call it jazz just because this feels like Latin Jazz. Apple is calling it Bolero. Either way, I’m digging this. I love the drum beats and the chorus lines. I felt like I was allowed into the Buena Vista Social Club. The album cover is perfect as well, fits the music just right. This is the kind of stuff I can listen to on a summer day, sipping on a drink at the beach or just hanging out with friends. A really fun album to have on. As with many Jazz type albums, I don’t have more to say than that and that I loved it.

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4

Light 4! Guitars slap on this

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4

nice latina music

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4

"!Óigame compay! No deje camino por coger la vereda" (De camino a la vereda) "Yo soy el árbol conmovido y triste" (¿Y tú qué has hecho) Increíble pero me sé como la mitad de canciones de este disco sin tener recuerdo de haberlo escuchado nunca. Un beso a Elíades Ochoa, rey.

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4

Good fun, I’m trying to decided whether this would be better if I could understand Spanish or maybe because i don’t understand the lyrics it makes seem more profound. They are probably just singing about really mundane shit just like Taylor swift does.

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4

good one, sounds like Cuba

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4

Latin grooves by old boys. Best Tracks: Chan Chan, Pueblo Nuevo, Buena Vista Social Club

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4

- nice, doesnt bother you, calming - tropico and pablo escobar

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4

Relaxing

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4

An instant classic when it came out, and an album I still regularly listen to.

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4

Kannte ich schon. Ist super, lässt aber zum Ende nach

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4

Taco Tuesday!

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4

This album opened my eyes to Latinx music and the pure talent that these artists have is immense. Favorite songs: Chan Chan, De Camino LA Vereda, Pueblo Nuevo

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4

Un disco interesante, se nota una influencia peculiar en ciertos arreglos, principalmente en la guitarra/cuatro y en las melodias de la voz.

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4

*dança com o tronco e mexendo os bracinhos*²

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4

Smooth grooves and vibes for days. What does that mean? I don’t know, but I really dug this. It sounds like people having a great time together, and I am here for that.

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4

kinda nice ngl

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4

I like this album, it has very cool songs in it

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4

Always enjoyed this album

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4

Oooooh very curious to hear this one. I remember when this came out and seeing the album cover everywhere. This is nice background music. I like. I'l put it on at breezy backyard parties.

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4

Reminds me of Mike Irace, traveling, and Tropico 5/6

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4

Gorgeou

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4

Spanish language. Gorgeous instruments. Would love to wander the river walk listening to it

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4

interesting fusion of salsa and jazz. the pianist and guitarist are virtuosos to boot. i heuristically don't like salsa rhythms but this put me in a great move and i was groovin to it wooooohooo

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4

Sunny day listening

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4

I actually quite like the Cubano style of music, some of which I expect is due to it playing a fairly prominent role in Breaking Bad. It has such a unique sound and style that it's instantly recognizable no matter who is singing.

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4

This album is great but I've already listened to it before 4 stars

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4

3.75

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4

A lot of fun, really enjoyed it.

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4

Excellent, but I wouldn't find myself listening through the album start to finish, except as background music.

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4

Nails the Latin American genre very well, a great mix of cheerful songs and more low-key somber sounds

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4

A classic

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4

Bangers front to back. A little slow in the middle, but in a good way.

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4

Loved it fun funky sound like an island paradise

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4

Nice album. Not my music style but it was interesting to listen

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4

Classic Cuban latin jazz. Starts off very strong with Chan Chan but never reaches that high again. Album leans heavy on slower simmers than in-the-pocket grooves

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4

Latin/Cuban jazz is my favorite type of jazz, just makes you want to salsa. Ok reading more about it I guess its not considered jazz? Well whatever it is it's good.

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4

The instrumentals are beautiful throughout. Dos Gardenias will forever be a classic.

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4

7/10 legit.

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4

Really enjoying this… another album I likely never would have listened to but really good! Some of my favorite tracks were the piano ones like Pueblo Neuvo and Buena Vista Social Club. I’ve heard some of these songs before - I think maybe in some movies?

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4

It's well-produced and all the songs sound nice, it just isn't really my style for casual listening. 7/10

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4

8/10. Quite good, great vibe to have going in the background, and probably solid in the foreground as well, though I haven't tested that as much.

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4

some really iconic tracks and some mediocre ones that really stretched out the runtime, overall a pleasant listen tho. 7/10

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4

Ι normally don't listen to this genre, but there is something in this album. I really enjoyed it. The first song is a killer

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4

latin jazz is always a banger

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4

A very nostalgic album to anyone who has spent time in Cuban resorts the last 20 years. Great collection of songs as a tribute to the rich culture of Cuba.

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4

this was fun, and a really welcome change. also, those guys can PLAY. i appreciate the legacy, but i definitely feel like i'm missing something not having seen the movie.

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4

7/10

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4

It`s not a modern music and i don`t understand language`s song, but i like that

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4

Like a warm bath …

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4

Quality album

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4

gotta relisten, great ambient vibes tho

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4

Nice jazz album, very familiar sound

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4

It's all in the title.

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