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World - Released February 28, 2020 | World Circuit

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At the end of the 1990s, Wim Wenders’ Buena Vista Social Club was a hit. For the Cuban singers involved in this revivalist project, the film’s extraordinary success meant leaving their forced retirement and enjoying the last years of their careers as acclaimed and international showmen. With his three solo albums, one of which was released after his death, jovial Ibrahim Ferrer confirmed that he was an excellent romance and bolero singer. First released in 2003, Buenos Hermanos won a Grammy. Today, it comes back with a new cover and booklet and in an expanded version entirely conceptualized by its original producer. American arranger and guitar player Ry Cooder changed the order of the tracks and added four previously unreleased songs to the album. Faustino Orama’s Me Voy Pa Sibanicú, Christina Saladrigas’s Ojos Malvados, Agustin Lara Aguirre del Pino’s Mujer, and Frank Grillo’s Ven Conmigo Guajira were all recorded during the same sessions and with the same dreamy cast of musicians (Orlando 'Cachaíto' López, Manuel Galbán, Angá Díaz, Chucho Valdés Jim Keltner, and Ry Cooder). The new tracks fit naturally in the album, giving us even more to love and marvel. © Benjamin MiNiMuM/Qobuz
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World - Released June 7, 1999 | World Circuit

When the Buena Vista Social Club album was released to great acclaim in 1997, it revived the careers of quite a few incredibly talented aging Cuban musicians. Like Ibrahim Ferrer, most of those musicians (who had been legendary in the '40s through the '70s) hadn't been performing professionally in decades. With the success of the Buena Vista Social Club, everything changed; they toured the globe, and plans for follow-up albums followed. Ibrahim Ferrer's was the second of what became a line of Buena Vista releases, all hoping to cash in on the success of the first. Ferrer's album is pleasant, the kind of album you could put on during brunch on a sunny morning. The album features many classic Cuban compositions. Original arrangers, musicians, and bandleaders were involved whenever possible. One standout is "Mami Me Gusto," a rolling upbeat tune by the legendary Cuban composer/bandleader Arsenio Rodriguez. On that tune Ferrer is lively and loose, and he is joined by Rodriguez's original pianist, the masterful Ruben Gonzales. The rest of the album is nice, but rarely as inspired or joyous as the original Buena Vista release. This is a much more romantic sounding album and on the right tunes, like "Aquellos Ojos Verdes," they really hit the mark; Ferrer shines and Gonzales sends glistening piano lines cascading down the keys. At age 63-plus, Ferrer was long overdue for a debut album, and as a result the disc communicates a feel of easy satisfaction. If you're looking for classy cocktail party music that will hold the attention of music fans, and won't bother the uninterested, look no further. © David Lavin /TiVo
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World - Released March 26, 2007 | World Circuit

The success of the Buena Vista Social Club series gave Cuban singer Ibrahim Ferrer the chance to finally begin his dream project in 2005, the recording of an entire album of bolero pieces, the musical form Ferrer loved above all others. Unfortunately the 78-year-old singer died in August of that year while sessions for the project were still underway, and that Mi Sueño (My Dream) exists at all is in itself a small miracle. Ferrer left behind high-quality vocal demos of the boleros he still intended to record for the album, but these tapes were apparently misplaced and Ferrer's dream seemed destined to go unfulfilled. The demos were eventually recovered, and Mi Sueño has finally seen the light of day. It is the perfect goodbye from Ferrer, a fitting and beautiful last testament that spotlights his easy and smoky vocals over subtle, non-intrusive arrangements generally featuring pianist Roberto Fonseca, guitarist Manuel Galbon, and bassist Cachito Lopez. The late Rubén González adds piano to the beautiful "Melodía del Río," a track produced by Ry Cooder in 1998 that fits seamlessly with the newer recordings. Javier Zalbar's clarinet lines add perfect lift to "Copla Guajira," the closest thing to an up-tempo piece here, but then the romantic lilt of the classic Cuban bolero isn't about speed and energy but is instead about an elegant gliding through the motions of love, and Ferrer does it perfectly. He would have been proud of this album. It has a calm and measured grace, and flows like a watery sequence from a dream -- Ibrahim Ferrer's dream, to be exact. © Steve Leggett /TiVo
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Latin - Released September 20, 2019 | Master Tape Records

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World - Released March 10, 2003 | World Circuit

Ibrahim Ferrer, the "official" lead vocalist of Buena Vista Social Club, and producer Ry Cooder take numerous chances and many labyrinthine journeys (guaranteed to piss off all of the purists) on their third collaboration for the World Circuit/Nonesuch label, yet manage to come up with the most beautiful fruit of their collaborative efforts to date. The pair took tons of chances, recording both in Havana and in Los Angeles and bringing in not only additional musicians among Cuba's top session players -- such as guitarist and keyboardist Manuel Galban, Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez on bass, and Miguel Diaz on congas, to name three of more than a dozen -- but also adding Jim Keltner to the drum mix, along with Cooder's son, Joachim, who handles these chores on every track. Keltner, the younger Cooder, Ry, and Galban also play together on a few tracks. But add to this already eclectic mix master Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes and vanguard textural trumpeter Jon Hassell as well as the Blind Boys of Alabama on one cut and you have a recording that is at once celebratory, charming, eclectic, and, well, brilliant. Ferrer's talents as a vocalist transcend all boundaries and musical types, yet he makes every song a Cuban song, one rooted in the earthy spirit of his native Havana. "Perfume de Gardenias" has the Blind Boys replacing Ferrer's regular Cuban chorus of backing vocalists and features the great saxophonist Gil Bernal as well as Galban on a wonderfully understated yet commandingly melodic piano. The track lies in the seam, where the Blind Boys add a more restrained and rounded backing to Ferrer's pricelessly gorgeous croon; Bernal and Galban move this folky ballad into the realms of a jazz/pop tune, and it still comes off as a firmly Cuban song, rooted in the heat, the rhythm, and the passion of everyday life in Havana. "Mil Congojas," which follows immediately, features the band backed by a string orchestra. Ferrer feeds off the atmospherics and allows his voice to literally drip from his throat and enter the mix as if he were singing to the angels. In addition, coming off these two ballads, so silky and gorgeous, is "Hay Que Entrale a Palo a Ese," a steaming son with a large percussion section shoring up the backing chorus and Ferrer using a rapid-fire delivery to add to the rhythmic intensity of the track. In addition, there is Valdes' "Boliviana," a folky love song rooted in the traditional melodies of Cuban Indios and extrapolated to fit a more contemporary Afro-Cuban musical framework -- Abdullah Ibrahim himself could have composed the music here, so saturated in South African melodic and harmonic structures it is, with Valdes' sense of blurred, elongated time signatures and shifting rhythmic patterns. Hassell's trumpet adds a wonderfully simplistic element to the female backing chorus and Ferrer pours his heart into every crack and crevice of the song, splitting it wide open and letting its longing show through. The record closes with a burner, "Oy el Consejo," once again a traditional call-and-response son tuned into an intensely rhythmic polysyllabic poem via Ferrer's no-holds-barred vocal. In sum, this album reveals what is truly possible when musicians of other cultures get together to serve the music, not individual talents. And though Ferrer proves himself yet again to be one of the world's greatest treasures as a singer, he is always loyal to Cuba, ever the slave of the rhythm, ever the angel of the song itself. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 6, 2009 | Tumbao Cuban Classics

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World - Released February 28, 2020 | World Circuit

Ibrahim Ferrer, the "official" lead vocalist of Buena Vista Social Club, and producer Ry Cooder take numerous chances and many labyrinthine journeys (guaranteed to piss off all of the purists) on their third collaboration for the World Circuit/Nonesuch label, yet manage to come up with the most beautiful fruit of their collaborative efforts to date. The pair took tons of chances, recording both in Havana and in Los Angeles and bringing in not only additional musicians among Cuba's top session players -- such as guitarist and keyboardist Manuel Galban, Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez on bass, and Miguel Diaz on congas, to name three of more than a dozen -- but also adding Jim Keltner to the drum mix, along with Cooder's son, Joachim, who handles these chores on every track. Keltner, the younger Cooder, Ry, and Galban also play together on a few tracks. But add to this already eclectic mix master Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes and vanguard textural trumpeter Jon Hassell as well as the Blind Boys of Alabama on one cut and you have a recording that is at once celebratory, charming, eclectic, and, well, brilliant. Ferrer's talents as a vocalist transcend all boundaries and musical types, yet he makes every song a Cuban song, one rooted in the earthy spirit of his native Havana. "Perfume de Gardenias" has the Blind Boys replacing Ferrer's regular Cuban chorus of backing vocalists and features the great saxophonist Gil Bernal as well as Galban on a wonderfully understated yet commandingly melodic piano. The track lies in the seam, where the Blind Boys add a more restrained and rounded backing to Ferrer's pricelessly gorgeous croon; Bernal and Galban move this folky ballad into the realms of a jazz/pop tune, and it still comes off as a firmly Cuban song, rooted in the heat, the rhythm, and the passion of everyday life in Havana. "Mil Congojas," which follows immediately, features the band backed by a string orchestra. Ferrer feeds off the atmospherics and allows his voice to literally drip from his throat and enter the mix as if he were singing to the angels. In addition, coming off these two ballads, so silky and gorgeous, is "Hay Que Entrale a Palo a Ese," a steaming son with a large percussion section shoring up the backing chorus and Ferrer using a rapid-fire delivery to add to the rhythmic intensity of the track. In addition, there is Valdes' "Boliviana," a folky love song rooted in the traditional melodies of Cuban Indios and extrapolated to fit a more contemporary Afro-Cuban musical framework -- Abdullah Ibrahim himself could have composed the music here, so saturated in South African melodic and harmonic structures it is, with Valdes' sense of blurred, elongated time signatures and shifting rhythmic patterns. Hassell's trumpet adds a wonderfully simplistic element to the female backing chorus and Ferrer pours his heart into every crack and crevice of the song, splitting it wide open and letting its longing show through. The record closes with a burner, "Oy el Consejo," once again a traditional call-and-response son tuned into an intensely rhythmic polysyllabic poem via Ferrer's no-holds-barred vocal. In sum, this album reveals what is truly possible when musicians of other cultures get together to serve the music, not individual talents. And though Ferrer proves himself yet again to be one of the world's greatest treasures as a singer, he is always loyal to Cuba, ever the slave of the rhythm, ever the angel of the song itself. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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World - Released April 5, 2016 | Plus Music Records

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World - Released July 22, 2013 | Ultra Records, LLC

Ay Candela is the most interesting and compelling kind of compilation recording. Not merely a hastily packaged rehash meant to cash in on a vital artist's current reputation: It is, in essence, a history of the singer and his time, his pattern of travel through Cuba's street fairs, small-time recording studios, night clubs, and finally to the world's most prestigious stages a as member of the Buena Vista Social Club. The recordings compiled here were done over various periods in Ibrahim Ferrer's career, and include the canonical pillars of his repertoire like the title track, and the wondrously joyful "De Camino a la Verada," which he wrote new versions for. There is also a lovely duet here with Carlos Querol called "Santa Cecilia" that dates back to the beginnings of the 20th century. One of the bonuses of this collection is "Una Fuerza Inmensa," a beautiful solo bolero. For the price this is a fantastic buy. There isn't a stray or mediocre moment in the bunch, and the music virtually crackles with energy, vitality and happiness. These are the root sounds of one of Cuba's greatest vocal stylists and offer proof of the depth and breadth of his legacy and contribution. © Thom Jurek /TiVo

Latin - Released May 22, 2004 | Blue Moon

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World - Released November 20, 2006 | Pimienta Records

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World - Released February 6, 2020 | World Circuit

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World - Released January 9, 2020 | World Circuit

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World - Released February 6, 2020 | World Circuit

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World - Released January 9, 2020 | World Circuit