It’s a postcard from Old Havana. In 1996, in defiance of a travel ban, U.S. guitarist Ry Cooder traveled to Havana to record the Buena Vista Social Club, a band of Cuban musicians who had formed in tribute to the long-defunct nightclub of the same name. The resulting album, named after the band, became a sleeper hit, earning a Grammy Award and selling 12 million copies. Most of those artists have passed away, so the release of this intoxicating collection of 14 studio outtakes and live tracks from the 2000s is welcome. The album kicks off with a live version of “Bruca Manigua,” a 1930s lament sung by the peerless Ibrahim Ferrer. It elicits contagious Latin dance rhythms, percolating percussion, a salutary horn section, and Spanish-language vocals buoyed by the swell of the audience’s appreciative cheers. Other highlights include octogenarian singer Compay Segundo’s “Macusa,” a classic Santiago-style song that pairs him with singer and guitarist Eliades Ochoa (the two teamed up on the original album’s most famous track, “Chan Chan”). Ochoa also contributes two solo numbers recorded after-hours during the original sessions. Plus there’s a sultry duet by bassist Cachaíto López and Miguel “Angá” Díaz, and jazz pianist Ruben Gonzalez’s last recorded danzon-style song.
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