Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Cuba’s best export after cigars are still smokin’

Since they were introduced to the world via the evangelism of American musician Ry Cooder, the Buena Vista Social Club have been Cuba's most successful export since those cigars beloved of Bond villains.

Not exactly in the first flush of youth then, time has necessitated a few personnel changes, but original member trombonist Jesus Ramos remains the group's focal point, and dressed in a Casablanca style white tux, he led his Dad's Army of musicians through a thrilling set.

As befits their laid-back style, the pleasures come in a slow release. The expert musicians noodle as much as any prog rock band, and what you get is not so much a set of songs as a slow building Cuban symphony.

The undoubted star of the evening was diva and birthday girl Omara Portuondo.

Her duet with husband Papi Oviedo including a cha cha cha that put everyone in Strictly to shame was the highlight of the evening, as was her version of Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps.

No wonder they unrolled the Cuban flag in el pito del mosho.

MICHAEL CONAGHAN

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