Music Reviews
Béla Mavrák & The stars of the Buena Vista Social

Béla Mavrák & The Stars of the Buena Vista Social Club

Un Soplo en el Aire (A Breeze in the Wind)

Connector Records

It seems you can always find a classical guitarist when you need one, even in Hungary. With 20 years of successful touring, operas, and concerts under his tux, Mavrák finds his way to Havana and hooks up with the remaining survivors of the Buena Vista Social Club. This group of pre-revolutionary Cuban musicians was forced underground when the Castro revolution closed the night clubs because, like the Puritans, Castro knew fun was just the devil’s work and only hours of reading economics texts can make good communists. Out of work and out of favor, the social clubs melted away and the BVSC alums nearly starved. Things began looking up after the 1999 film showed us who was left and how wonderful they sounded, and the Afro Caribbean sound began a slow revival. On this collection Mavrà k connects with some older and some newer Cubans and lends his operatic voice to the local beats sound along with some classical guitar sparks.

The songs lurking here range from the Lawrence Welk corny “Besame Mucho,” “Charade,” and “Lili Marlene,” to show tunes and movie themes such as “A Time for Us” and “Smile.” Backing up this pleasant 19-track disc is a DVD with an accompanying documentary – Béla in Cuba, Béla singing, Béla chatting with fellow musicians. It’s not a revealing flick, but nice enough in providing some music videos for us to enjoy when we hold MTV nights. Bèla’s audio is as good as Cuban studios can provide, and while I won’t call this breathtaking, it’s pleasant enough to get you through an evening with a bottle of red wine and a special someone.

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