Ry Cooder (1996)
Composer and multi-instrumentalist Ry Cooder was invited to Havana in 1996 by British music producer Nick Gold, with the aim to record an album featuring local son musicians. Tapping Juan de Marcos Gonzalez as musical director, they assembled a large band of traditional performers, most of whom had been active in the members-only Buena Vista Social Club in the 1940s and 1950s. "Society in Cuba ... was organized around these fraternal social clubs," Cooder explained later. "At the Buena Vista Social Club, musicians went there to hang out with each other, like they used to do at musicians' unions in the U.S., and they'd have dances and activities."
For maximum authenticity, the six-day session took place at EGREM studios, where the equipment and atmosphere had remained unchanged since the Fifties. The resulting album, named Buena Vista Social Club in honor of the musician’s roots, became a massive worldwide hit and spawned an Academy Award–nominated documentary of the same name. Both are invaluable documents that helped preserve and share pre-Revolutionary Cuban music.