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Cool man of Cuba

Posted July 18, 2005 by Cubana in Cuba Culture.
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Hendon & Finchley Times

Monday 18 July

Ibrahim Ferrer
Kenwood, Hampstead Lane, Highgate
Saturday, July 23, 7.30pm

It was said that of all the Buena Vista Social Club members, Ibrahim Ferrer was the least likely to become a solo artist in his own right.

But the Cuban singer’s mild manners and gentle style have not stopped him becoming an internationally acclaimed musician and writer of two albums.

But before he was picked up by the now legendary Ry Cooder for the club which inspired the eponymous hit film, it was not all plain sailing.

Ferrer, who was born in Santiago in 1927, began singing professionally with local groups at 14, working wherever he could make a living by day, and singing by night.

By the 1950s he was established as the singer with Pacho Alonso’s group and was able to concentrate fully on music.

Ferrer then began guesting with Orquesta de Chepin and Benny Mor, two legendary names of Cuban music.

Alonso’s band moved to Havana in 1959, and Ferrer stayed with the group for more than 20 years. By the 1970s, the group had become known as Los Bocucos, and pioneered the poln rhythm, which was reputedly based on the sound of pounding coffee beans.

He gave up the music industry in 1990, after it failed to make him much money, and was forced to shine shoes for a living.

He did not re-emerge until the club formed under the production of Cooder eight years later.

Since then, he released his debut solo album, The Buena Vista Social Club presents Ibrahim Ferrer, in 1999, which sold 1.6 million copies. And in 2003 he released the follow up, Buenos Hermanos, as well as receiving deserved recognition from the music industry.

He dominates the stage this Saturday at his only UK date this year, with songs from his upcoming album, Mi Sueño a Bolero Songbook, and is supported by Omar Puente.

Don’t be surprised if the concert turns into one big salsa party.

Tickets range from £20 (£18 concessions) for promenade seating to £29 (£26.50 concessions) for premium deckchairs. The event has sold out but returns are available. Call 0870 333 6206 for more information.

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