THE ORIGINAL BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB CONCEPT FINALLY COMES TO FRUITION
In 1996, a group of Mali’s best-known musicians were due to fly into Havana for a collaboration with some of Cuba’s
singers and instrumentalists. However, the Malians never arrived due to travel complications, and a very different
album was recorded instead: The Grammy Award–winning, multi-million-selling Buena Vista Social Club,
which became the biggest-selling “world music” album ever.
Nick Gold, the man behind the 1996 venture, finally brought the original invitees together with a line-up of
additional talent at a recent series of recording sessions. On October 19, World Circuit/Nonesuch Records will
release the lost Afro-Cuban album, AfroCubism, 14 years after originally planned.
Fronting the Cuban team is the cowboy-hatted singer and guitarist Eliades Ochoa, singer of the
celebrated Buena Vista theme “Chan Chan.” The two original Malian invitees are multi award-winning ngoni lute
master Bassekou Kouyate and the acclaimed Rail Band guitarist Djelimady Tounkara, both
considered to be among the world’s great instrumentalists.
Joining them are Ochoa’s Grupo Patria, one of Cuba’s longest running and most revered bands; the
Grammy Award–winning kora master Toumani Diabaté; legendary Malian griot singer Kasse Mady
Diabaté; and the innovative balafon player Lassana Diabaté.
Seventeen songs were recorded in five days, with all the musicians playing together live in one large room. A second
session was convened some months later and produced a further nine songs.