'Buenos Hermanos is a fest of boleros delivered with flair by Ferrer who intuitively...
Maud Hand 2003-12-12
The aptly titled Buenos Hermanos is Ibrahim Ferrer's fine follow-up to his gorgeous solo album (Buena Vista Social Club presents Ibrahim Ferrer, 1999) and enlists the talents of many good musical brothers. The Cubans, Cachaito Lopez and Chucho Valdés form the bedrock with bass and piano, Manuel Galbán laces in electric guitar, Flaco Jimenez squeezes his accordion while The Blind Boys of Alabama's backing blends beautifully with Ferrer's boleros, ballads and sultry son tunes.
Under Ry Cooder's production, Buenos Hermanos is yet another example of how a personal passion and respect for the music guarantees great results. It also consolidates the world-wide revolution of Cuban son brought about by the now legendary multimillion-selling Buena Vista recordings which launched the septuagenarian singer internationally.
Ferrer's vocal credentials had been well established in the socialist world after a life time of grafting with some of Cuba's greats, among them Orquesta Ritmo Oriental, Beny Moré; and Pacho Alonsos Los Bucucos. But it was Juan Marcos Gonzalez, the Sierra Maestra / Afro-Cuban All-Stars' bandleader who enticed him from retirement when Ry Cooder craved an authentic bolero singer for the Buena Vista project.
Buenos Hermanos is a feast of boleros delivered with flair by Ferrer, who intuitively conjures up the elegance and languid energy of that post-war singing style. Yet his assured renditions are full of freshness, not least on classics like "Perfume de Gardenias" which features the surprising yet cosy crooning of the Blind Boys of Alabama. Jon Hassell's trumpet on "Fuiste Cruel" is subtly contemporary while the breezy Boliviana, a track originally written by Valdés back in the 70s, brightens the mix with a pop spin. Demetrio Muñiz's orchestral arrangement on "Mil Congojas" is a luscious counterpoint to the gritty guitars of Cooder and Galbán.
One of my favourite tracks, "La Música Cubana" was composed spontaneously in the studio by Ferrer and Chucho Valdés and just about sums up this splendid CD - eloquent, inventive and utterly life-affirming.