Buena Vista Social Club Bids Adios

For the last two years, 85-year-old Omara Portuondo and her surviving bandmates Barbarito Torres, Eliades Ochoa and Guajiro Mirabal have been touring with a new version of the old group, called Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club. They called it the “Adiós Tour,” and it ended on Saturday and Sunday night at the Teatro Karl Marx in Havana. The band members were already old two decades ago, when the outside world first discovered them, which is part of what made the project so amazing. Time and memory seemed to have eclipsed the musicians when Ry Cooder and a British music producer, Nick Gold, brought them together in 1996 to make a record. That collection of antique Cuban dance music of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, made by a makeshift group of musicians from across the island, was so popular it led to a world tour, some Grammys, a Carnegie Hall concert, a film, then spinoff records and spinoff tours: a phenomenon far easier to savor than to explain.

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