The sound of Old Havana lives on and, despite the loss of several leading figures, the Buena Vista Social Club is going back on the road. They earned worldwide fame in the 1990s when American guitarist Ry Cooder reunited them nearly 50 years after their heyday. They are now rehearsing for a short tour of Brazil, with percussionist Amadito Valdes one of only two original members left.
“Buena Vista was one way of renewing the market we had lost for political reasons,” said Valdes. “It’s an icon, and has become a true global brand.” Wim Wenders’ 1999 film made stars of such veterans as guitarist and singer Compay Segundo, pianist Ruben Gonzalez and the incomparable vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer. They have now passed away, but the link with the past remains in the shape of Valdes and fellow-original, the laud player Barbarito Torres. The line-up may have changed, but Buena Vista’s latest tour proves the beat goes on.