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Ibrahim Ferrer: Buena Vista Social Club Presents Ibrahim Ferrer

From the life of a former singing icon to shoe shine man in Havana, to international star, the saga of the sweet, supple vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer’s late-blooming career is, by now, fairly well-known, thanks to Ry Cooder. To sum it up: Cooder found himself in Havana three years ago, following his son-pulsed heart to piece together the tribute to living masters of son music called Buena Vista Social Club, a gathering of aging and mostly neglected older musicians of the old school Cuban music orbit. Voila, a sensation, a world music hit surpassing everyone’s ambitions.

Cooder went back down last spring, this time with German-cum-Los Angeleno director Wim Wenders and camera crew in tow, working on the recently-released film Buena Vista Social Club, probably one of the finest music documentaries ever made. The pretext for the visit was to produce Buena Vista Social Club Presents Ibrahim Ferrer (Nonesuch/ World Circuit 79532; 52:11), the 72-year-old singer’s first official solo album, just released, but it’s hard to listen to the end result-as beautiful as it is on purely musical terms-without pondering the larger context.

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