Before film audiences ran off to see what would come ambling down the mountain after the release of O Brother, Where Art Thou?
, they were basking in the lush, tropical tones emanating from the heart of Havana. During American guitarist Ry Cooder's journey into the proud history and rich traditions of Cuban music, which produced the Grammy-winning 1997 album The Buena Vista Social Club
and the 1999 documentary of the same name, vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer distinguished himself as a master among the assembled musicians. Six years later, Ferrer has released his second solo effort, Buenos Hermanos
, with Cooder again at the helm. The more staid tunes like "Como el Arrullo de Palma" ("Like the Whispering of the Palm Tree") reflect the simplicity of Buena Vista
, but the infectiously rollicking grooves of "Buenos Hermanos" ("Good Brothers") and the gently floating vocal harmonies of "Boliviana" ("Bolivian Girl") show a more contemporary side of the septuagenarian singer.
Although Ferrer's voice reveals its age at times, with the effusive singer attempting fewer of the vocal pyrotechnics that made an indelible mark on the Buena Vista sessions, his youthful enthusiasm for the material and his mature grasp of its meaning make this release a genuine masterwork.