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The Beginning

… But, finally, it has to be said that what got recorded is whatever got recorded. I didn’t do too much directing. What I would say is, “Stop talking and let’s play. You guys like to talk and you like to discuss and argue, but we’d better keep this going if we can. Let’s see if we can get a sound momentum …”

The story behind the name

… Then, we went looking for the club -- as you see in the film -- and, well it wasn’t there any more and nobody could agree on where it had been in the first place. It was here, it was there. Buena Vista used to be a neighborhood up on a hillside above the town where there were nice breezes and it was cool and pleasant. It was quite beautiful. I don’t have any idea where it was, but everybody swears they know …

The impact of Buena Vista

… People say, “Oh you knew  this was going to happen,” and I say, “Are you kidding me?”  Find me one reason why this would have been popular; there’s no logic. It’s just that it’s great, and everybody picked up on it …

Music that has opened borders

If you’re taught to hate and fear a people or a country and it works, it’s because or your ignorance of that country. You have no contact with it, nor do you know what you're hating and fearing. Then you have to say, after listening to this music, who is it you are afraid of? Are you afraid of Rubén? He frightens you? He’s a threat to you? Come on!…

Ibrahim Ferrer

What we don’t see or hear too much of anymore is this bolero quality, this gauzy kind of transparent inward voice that he has, because that’s the kind of guy he is. He’s an inward man, he’s not a showman like Compay. He’s not an actor so much, he’s just a zenned-out character ... 

  Los Zafiros

Los Zafiros was not typically Cuban, it wasn’t typically anything. They were just a bunch of bad boys from the Cayo Hueso neighborhood – low-riders we would have known them as -- vatos loco, and rough characters. So they sing in this kind of low-rider-of-the-times style, which is an American East Coast R&B mixed with Cuban. It’s incredible. You would want something like this to exist …   

Omara Portuondo

Ibrahim and Omara are very good together. Their singing is complimentary because her voice has a certain lower mass as a woman’s voice, and his voice has a certain lack of mass, higher for a man. Where you might be used to hearing the man in the melody and the woman in the harmony, they can flip it around and it gives it a kind of unique harmonic quality …

About the film

… So I said to him (Wim Wenders) in passing, casually, “We’ve just done this thing, it’s interesting Cuban music. I don’t want say too much but check it out and see what you think.” It had occurred to me that if we didn’t get this documented on film -- the people and the place, the process of doing this music that we had seen -- that we would be missing the boat …

Carnegie Hall

… The beautiful moment everybody reflects on is Ibrahim and Omara singing “Silencio” and dancing on stage. Spontaneity like that was just responding and being Cubans. The whole thing was incredible …

A Family Journey

Joachim was 18 when we did this record and I think back to when I was that age and I started to hang around some blues players and some hillbillies, and it made all the difference. You then have a kind of understanding that makes you able to communicate and to produce the essence that I’ve been talking about, the thing that makes the music wonderful and makes it live …

 

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Musical artists appear courtesy of World Circuit/Nonesuch Records.
Film Images appear courtesy of Road Movies.