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Ry Cooder: My Name is Buddy (Warners)

Ry Cooder: My Name is Buddy (Warners)

Albums under Ry Cooder's name once only sold in the hundreds. But these days -- through high profile soundtracks such as Paris, Texas, The Long Riders and Trespass, internationally acclaimed work with the Buena Vista Social Club, and superb albums with the likes of fellow guitarist Manuel Galban (Mambo Sinuendo) and the late Ali Farka Toure from...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007: Ibrahim Ferrer: Mi Sueno (World Circuit)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007: Ibrahim Ferrer: Mi Sueno (World Circuit)

Knowing that these were the final sessions by the late Buena Vista Social Club's star singer means that perhaps many will cast a more sympathetic ear over them than they might have otherwise. And let's be honest the other "final session" thing -- his duet with Omara Portuondo on As Time Goes By which appeared on the Rhythms Del Mundo...

Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loca: Isabela (Mopiato/Southbound)

Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loca: Isabela (Mopiato/Southbound)

Anyone wanting a quick injection of jazzy Afro-Latin grooves and palm wine warmth shouldn't go past this laid-back but lively outing by this LA-based but authentic band which is like a smorgasbord of Spanish, soukous, son, salsa, Congolese rumba and much more -- with the great guitarist Papa Noel appearing four tracks. And the Cape Verde...

The Ipanemas: Call of the Gods (Farout/Southbound)

The Ipanemas: Call of the Gods (Farout/Southbound)

You would have thought that the high-profile 2006 album Samba is Our Gift by the Ipanemas from Brazil would have kick-started a whole samba/Afro-Brazil movement much like the Buena Vista Social Club album did for Cuban music. After all, many of the elements were the same: the Ipanemas (drummer Wilson Das Neves and guitarist Neco) were elderly...

Ry Cooder: I, Flathead (Warners)

Ry Cooder: I, Flathead (Warners)

Right, I'm not going to pretend this is easy to follow, but it's Ry Cooder so it's worth the effort.This album apparently completes the trilogy of Californian albums Cooder started with Chavez Ravine and My Name is Buddy, but this one is slightly more problematic in that it comes from the perspective of an imaginary musician called Kash Buck (ho...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Omara Portuondo: Gracias (Harmonia Mundi)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Omara Portuondo: Gracias (Harmonia Mundi)

The great Cuban singer - who came to world attention via the Buena Vista Social Club a decade ago - is still going even though she is in her late 70, which may be some kind of testament to the life-affirming powers of Cuban rum or that country's health-care system. As with the final album by her late BVSC colleague Ibrahim Ferrer (the...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Buena Vista Social Club: Live at Carnegie Hall (Elite)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Buena Vista Social Club: Live at Carnegie Hall (Elite)

A decade on and the Buena Vista Social Club story just keeps being told: there was the original album, the Wim Wenders doco, the solo albums by various members, the touring, the t-shirts . . . Not bad for a project about which timbales player Amadito Valdes says, "I still don't know why Buena Vista Social Club became such a success...

Ry Cooder:The Ry Cooder Anthology, The UFO Has Landed (Warners)

Ry Cooder:The Ry Cooder Anthology, The UFO Has Landed (Warners)

Given the length - not to mention the breadth - of his career, this crammed double disc could almost still seem paltry. Cooder has recorded about 30 albums, reached from classic film soundtracks (Paris Texas and The Long Riders) to the Buena Vista Social Club, recorded concept albums (the recent LA trilogy) and pared-back acoustic material....

Various: Cuba, I Am Time (1999)

Various: Cuba, I Am Time (1999)

When any art form has success, especially if it is unexpected, you can expect the ripples for a long time afterwards . . . and like ripples when a stone is thrown in a flat pond, they are of diminishing impact. So when Gladiator had phenomenal success you didn’t have to wait long for a slew of increasingly bad...

RY COODER INTERVIEWED (2009): Dry, wry and moving right along

RY COODER INTERVIEWED (2009): Dry, wry and moving right along

Ry Cooder -- if a slightly flinty 15 minute conversation with someone who rarely gives interviews suggests -- gives the clear impression of someone who doesn’t like to waste his time. His answers can sound abrupt, he barely laughs even when he makes a mild joke, and bristles at some questions. The other problem in talking with...

Various Artists: Panama!3 (Sound Way)

Various Artists: Panama!3 (Sound Way)

This third installment of this excellent and enjoyable on-going series of music pulled from old singles is subtitled "Calypso Panameno, Guajira Jazz and Cumbia Tipica on the Isthmus 1960-75". Even if you don't have a clue about those various styles (the liner notes are exceptionally helpful) you can still enjoy these warm sounds...

Various Artists: Gilles Peterson Presents Havana Cultura (Brownswood/Soutbound)

Various Artists: Gilles Peterson Presents Havana Cultura (Brownswood/Soutbound)

The global success of Buena Vista Social Club a decade ago meant some presumed the group represented the sound of Cuba -- and that shut out any notion there might be vibrant young players (or even hip-hop) in that land of cigars, old cars and benign, soft-focus images.  Here itinerant UK DJ Peterson helps correct that misconception and...

The Chieftains featuring Ry Cooder: San Patricio (Universal)

The Chieftains featuring Ry Cooder: San Patricio (Universal)

Here's something we don't hear as often as we used to: a concept album with guest stars and telling a historical story – in this case the Irish Catholics migrant soldiers who deserted from the predominantly Protestant US army during the Mexican-American war and sided with the Mexicans. The San Patricio Battalion actually...

Various Artists: Rhythms del Mundo, Revival (Ape)

Various Artists: Rhythms del Mundo, Revival (Ape)

After the Buena Vista Social Club alerted the planet to great old, and largely forgotten, musicians in Cuba – and of course the beguiling rhythms of that small island – it was open season on catalogue exploitation for major record companies, many of whom suddenly discovered they had Cuban bands on their books from decades before...

The Creole Choir of Cuba: Tande-la (Real World/Southbound)

The Creole Choir of Cuba: Tande-la (Real World/Southbound)

Already tipped to be one of the highlights at next year's New Zealand Womad in Taranaki, this choir of Haitian ancestry certainly sing up a powerful sentiment (see clip). But this isn't an easy album: Cuban creole (a meltdown of French, various words and phrases from African languages and some other seasoning thrown in) means whatever they...

CUBA; THE SIGHTS, SOUNDS, FLAVORS AND FACES by PIERRE HAUSHERR AND FRANCOIS MISSEN

CUBA; THE SIGHTS, SOUNDS, FLAVORS AND FACES by PIERRE HAUSHERR AND FRANCOIS MISSEN

With the geriatric Fidel Castro literally shuffling off the stage leaving it to his brother Raul and a cadre of elders, these look like the end days of the Cuba which has existed in proud but imposed Leftist isolation and has stared down an American trade and cultural boycott for decades. This has come at a price for Cubans who enjoy high...

Ry Cooder: Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down (Nonesuch/Warners)

Ry Cooder: Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down (Nonesuch/Warners)

Ry Cooder's last three outings were the occasionally rewarding but often hard haul through his concept album trilogy Chavez Ravine (Mexican LA in the Forties), My Name is Buddy (Depression era America) and I Flathead (sci-fi Fifties with cool cars). Great songs scattered throughout, but . . .   For this one however Cooder...

BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB in concert, review: Music, myth and marketing in Melbourne (2001)

BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB in concert, review: Music, myth and marketing in Melbourne (2001)

The old man looks desperately frail, shuffling as if each step could be his last. But as he is helped the few metres from the wings of the stage to the piano, each faltering footfall is accompanied by a deafening roar of applause and a standing ovation. The footstamping and clapping subsides, the band kicks in and Ruben Gonzalez starts to...

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