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Special Guest: Bolero Blues


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Founding sonero of Cuba’s all-star Buena Vista Social Club, who has collaborated with artists as diverse as Manu Dibango, Ry Cooder, and David Hidalgo, makes a rare appearance to celebrate his brand-new release, Guajiro.


While the Buena Vista Social Club film and album introduced Cuban music to international audiences in the late 1990s, several members have moved on to stardom on their own.


None shines brighter than Eliades Ochoa, the band’s founding soñero and tresero (singer and guitarist). Ochoa had already made nine albums before playing on guitarist Ry Cooder’s album and director Wim Wenders’s film. Both titled “Buena Vista Social Club,” both became international hits. The album won the 1997 Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album, the film was nominated for an Oscar.


Ochoa started playing guitar at age six, growing up near Santiago in eastern Cuba. By 22, he led Cuarteto Patria in modernizing its sound; and he recorded with future Buena Vista Social Club bandmate Compay Segundo. In addition to conventional six-string guitar, Ochoa also plays tres whose Cuban version has six strings in three close pairs while a Puerto Rican variant has nine strings.


Since touring the world with Buena Vista Social Club compadres, (including a Proctors show, October 20, 2000), Ochoa has expanded his musical ambitions and achievements in fascinating directions. 


He reached back to the African roots of Cuban folkloric styles with the great saxophonist and vibes player Manu Dibango from Cameroon and played the blues with Mississippi harp giant Charlie Musselwhite on the Grammy-nominated “Sublime Illusion” album that also featured Cooder, and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos. His “Afrocubism” also earned a Grammy nomination while National Geographic Music hailed it as best album in the world; then “Un Bolero Para Ti” won four Latin Grammy awards. Ochoa also played on the Bob Dylan tribute “From Another World.”


Hailed as the Cuban Johnny Cash, he is instantly recognizable in trademark black garb and cowboy hat and is profiled in Cynthia Biestek’s documentary Eliades Ochoa from Cuba to the World.


He played SONY Hall in New York City’s Times Square the night before Music Haven on his seven-nation Guajiro tour, named for his latest album.

Special Guests: Bolero Blues

This Latin jazz quintet, led by Lower East Side transplant Walter Ramos on percussion, boasts a similar wingspan of Latin and Caribbean styles to the revered Ochoa’s, plus favorites from the Great American Songbook. Local hero Alex Torres joins the band for just one night, playing bongos.

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