Ibrahim Ferrer (February 20, 1927 – August 6, 2005) was a Cuban singer who played with Los Bocucos for nearly forty years. He also performed with Conjunto Sorpresa, Chepín y su Orquesta Oriental and Mario Patterson. After his retirement in 1991, he was brought back in the studio to record with the Afro-Cuban All Stars and Buena Vista Social Club in March 1996. He then toured internationally with these revival groups and recorded several solo albums for World Circuit before his death in 2005.
Ferrer was born at a dance club in San Luis, near the city of Santiago de Cuba. His mother died when he was 12, leaving him orphaned and forcing him to sing on the streets (busk) to earn money.
The following year, Ferrer joined his first ever musical group—a duet with his cousin—called Jovenes del Son (Spanish: Youths of Rhythm). They performed at private functions and the two youths managed to scrape together enough money to live.
Over the next few years, Ferrer would perform with many musical groups, including Conjunto Sorpresa and Chepín y su Orquesta Oriental. As lead singer of the latter, Ferrer recorded in 1956 his biggest hit: “El platanal de Bartolo”. In 1961, he also sang lead for Mario Patterson y su Orquesta Oriental on “Cariño falso”, a standard of the guaracha repertoire.
In 1953, Ferrer began performing with Pacho Alonso’s group in Santiago, Cuba. In 1959, the group moved permanently to Havana, renaming themselves Los Bocucos, after a type of drum widely used in Santiago, the bocú. With Alonso, Ferrer primarily performed sones, guarachas and other up-tempo songs. However, he yearned to sing boleros.
Ferrer remained a member of Los Bocucos until his retirement in 1991. Starting in 1967, Los Bocucos became an independent group, since Pacho Alonso started a new band, Los Pachucos. Since then, Ferrer began to sing lead more often, instead of performing as a backing singer. The group released several LPs in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1998, Cuban label EGREM released on CD Tierra caliente, a compilation of tracks recorded by Los Bocucos between 1970 and 1988, featuring Ferrer as lead singer. The songs were directed and arranged by Roberto Correra, the group’s lead trumpeter.
In 1996, Ferrer took part in Nick Gold’s World Circuit sessions, when it was announced that an old-style bolero singer would be required. He first participated in the recording of the album A Toda Cuba le Gusta with the Afro-Cuban All Stars, which was nominated for a Grammy Award. This project was immediately followed by the recording of Ry Cooder’s Grammy Award winning Buena Vista Social Club album, which showcased Ferrer’s talent as a bolero singer and made him widely known outside Cuba.
In 1999, Ry Cooder recorded Ferrer’s first solo album. In 2000, Ferrer, at the age of 72, received a Latin Grammy for Best New Artist.
In 2001, he appeared on the track “Latin Simone (¿Qué Pasa Contigo?)” on the self-titled debut album of virtual band Gorillaz. Following Ferrer’s death, Gorillaz played the song live as a tribute to him at concerts in 2005 and 2006, and again in 2018.
In 2004, Ferrer won a Grammy, but was denied permission by the U.S. government to enter the U.S. to receive his award” as a result of extremely restrictive visa laws enacted in the wake of 9/11.
Ferrer released his second solo recording, Buenos Hermanos, in 2003 and continued touring in Europe into 2005. Ferrer’s contributed in 2005 to the APE Vision Artists Project Earth album Rhythms Del Mundo: Cuba, a collaboration with artists Coldplay, U2, Sting, Dido, Faithless, Jack Johnson, Maroon 5 and others. Ferrer’s last recording was Mi sueño, an album devoted to the bolero. It was released posthumously in 2006.
Ferrer was posthumously featured in the Gorillaz documentary films Bananaz and Reject False Icons in 2008 and 2019, respectively.
Ibrahim Ferrer died at age 78 of multiple organ failure on August 6, 2005, at CIMEQ hospital in Havana, Cuba after returning from a European tour. He was buried in the Colón Cemetery, Havana.
Ferrer was an adherent of the Santería faith, a blending of traditional African religions and Catholicism (wikipedia)
And here´s his first solo-album:
When the Buena Vista Social Club album was released to great acclaim in 1997, it revived the careers of quite a few incredibly talented aging Cuban musicians. Like Ibrahim Ferrer, most of those musicians (who had been legendary in the ’40s through the ’70s) hadn’t been performing professionally in decades. With the success of the Buena Vista Social Club, everything changed; they toured the globe, and plans for follow-up albums followed. Ibrahim Ferrer’s was the second of what became a line of Buena Vista releases, all hoping to cash in on the success of the first.
Ferrer’s album is pleasant, the kind of album you could put on during brunch on a sunny morning. The album features many classic Cuban compositions. Original arrangers, musicians, and bandleaders were involved whenever possible. One standout is “Mami Me Gusto,” a rolling upbeat tune by the legendary Cuban composer/bandleader Arsenio Rodriguez. On that tune Ferrer is lively and loose, and he is joined by Rodriguez’s original pianist, the masterful Ruben Gonzales. The rest of the album is nice, but rarely as inspired or joyous as the original Buena Vista release. This is a much more romantic sounding album and on the right tunes, like “Aquellos Ojos Verdes,” they really hit the mark; Ferrer shines and Gonzales sends glistening piano lines cascading down the keys. At age 63-plus, Ferrer was long overdue for a debut album, and as a result the disc communicates a feel of easy satisfaction. If you’re looking for classy cocktail party music that will hold the attention of music fans, and won’t bother the uninterested, look no further. (by David Lavin)
Joachim Cooder (udu drum, dumbek, drums)
Ry Cooder (guitar)
Ibrahim Ferrer (vocals)
Ibrahim Ferrer Jr. (clave)
Manuel Galbán (guitar)
Rubén González (piano)
Eliades Ochoa (guitar)
Papi Oviedo (tres)
Barbarito Torres (laúd)
Alberto “Virgilio” Valdés (maracas)
Amadito Valdés (timbales)
Ángel Terry Domech – Roberto García – Carlos González
Manuel “Guajiro” Mirabal – Octavio Calderón – Carmelo González – Yanko Pisaco Pichardo – Alejandro Pichardo Pérez – Daniel Ramos
Carlos Montenegro Ruíz – José Ramírez Nurque – Antonio Francisco Jiménez Sánchez – Braulio Hernández Rodríguez – Adrian Corzo González – Gil Bernal
Jesús “Aguaje” Ramos – Jorge Leal – Alberto Muñoz
Lázaro Ordóñez Enríquez – Julián Corrales Subidá – Alyoth Marichal Castillo – Pedro Depestre González – José Conyedo Román – José Pérez Fuentes – Ariel Sarduy Méndez –Rogelio Martínez Muguercia – Humberto Legat Yera
Rafael Cutiño Diequez – Angél Zaldívar Copello – Lenor Bermúdez Bermúdez
Angél Zaldívar Copello – Roy Ávila Serrano
Andrés Escalona Graña – Aleida Espinosa – Orlando “Cachaíto”
José Antonio “Maceo” Rodríguez – Michelle Alderete Espigul – Estela Guzmán Vega – Laura Flores Hernández – Odette Tellería Orduña
Pío Leyva – Manuel “Puntillita” Licea – Lázaro Villa – Teresa García Caturla – Omara Portuondo – José Antonio “Maceo” Rodríguez
01. Bruca Maniguá (Rodríguez) 4.43
02. Herido De Sombras (Francia) 4.11
03. Marieta (Oramas) 5.55
04. Guateque Campesino (Romero) 5.09
05. Mami Me Gustó (Rodríguez) 5.04
06. Nuestra Ultima Cita (Medina) 3.57
07. Cienfuegos Tiene Su Guaguanco (Lay) 5.22
08. Silencio (Hernández) 4.38
09. Aquellos Ojos Verdes (Menendez/Utrera) 4.54
10. Qué Bueno Baila Usted (Moré) 4.39
11. Como Fue (Duarte) 3.33