Ibrahim Ferrer – Buena Vista Social Club Presents Ibrahim Ferrer (1999)

FrontCover1Ibrahim 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.[6] 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)

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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
background vocals:
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





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Various Artists – Buena Vista Social Club – 7 Track Sampler (2000)

FrontCover1Not actually a band proper but a confluence of veteran Cuban musicians brought together for a recording session by American guitarist Ry Cooder after a 1996 trip to Havana. The project became the surprise hit of 1997 when its resulting album, Buena Vista Social Club, wound up selling over five million copies, largely by word of mouth, and won a Grammy for Best Tropical Latin Performance. The Buena Vista Social Club did more internationally for Cuban music than decades of cultural exchanges ever could and simultaneously helped popularize the world music genre in the late-1990s.

Cooder was invited to Havana by the British world music producer Nick Gold to a record African High-life musicians with a group of Cuban players. When the African musicians failed to get their visas, Cooder and Gold instead recorded an album of son — a polyrhythmic musical style long popular in Cuba — with veteran local musicians. After assembling the core group — musical director Juan de Marcos González, bassist Orlando “Cachaito” López, guitarist Eliades Ochoa, pianist Rubén González and singers Manuel “Puntillita” Licea and Compay Segundo — the recording session began at the Havana studio Egrem, an old RCA Records Studio with 1950s vintage equipment.

BuenoVistaSocialClubThe album’s fourteen tracks were recorded in six days. One of the songs, “Buena Vista Social Club,” was written by Cachaíto’s father about an old Havana gathering place. Cooder decided to name the group and album after the club. When Cooder returned to Havana two years later with his percussionist son, Joaquim, to record Ferrar for a solo album, director Wim Wenders followed them. His film, Buena Vista Social Club, is mix of footages from that trip and Buena Vista’s live performances in New York City and Amsterdam. The film was nominated for an Academy Award in 2000. Though several solo albums came out of the project, the renewed attention for the veteran Cuban musicians was short-lived. In 2003, Compay Segundo and Ruben González died at ages 95 and 84, respectively; Ferrer died at 78 in 2005. Despite their losses, the group continues to tour with a revolving line-up of musicians.(by Rolling Stone)

This is a 7-track promotional CD sampler includes 2-tracks produced by Ry Cooder (“Chan Chan” & “Nuestra Ultima Cita”).

Track 7 is a previously unreleased live track (live at the Carré Theater, Amsterdam, 11 April 1998)


01 .Buena Vista Social Club: Chan Chan (Repilado) 4.18
02. Rubén González: Mandinga (Rodriguez) 8.28
03. Afro-Cuban All Stars: Pío Mentiroso (Miguel) 4.38
04. Ibrahim Ferrer: Nuestra Última Cita (Medina) 3.58
05. Omara Portuondo: La Sitiera (López) 3.54
06. Rubén González: Chanchullo (López) 5.11
07. Buena Vista Social Club: El Cuarto De Tula (Siaba) 8.08