Chapter 11—‘See How She Moves’: Musics of Latin America and the “Oye Como Va” Phenomenon
The following audiovisual items are of particular relevance to this chapter. Portions or complete versions of these productions may be available via VOD (Video on Demand) providers as well as in their conventional DVD or VHS formats. Please see the Chapter 2 “Audiovisual Resources” section of this Online Learning Center for an extensive list of VOD providers.
Buena Vista Social Club. 1999. Live/Artisan. DVD. 105 mins.
Award-winning documentary chronicling the odyssey of American guitarist/record producer Ry Cooder during the recording of vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer’s CD in the Buena Vista Social Club CD series in 1998 in Havana, Cuba. Directed by Wim Wenders, the film is artistically rendered and poignant; a portrait of an historic music culture “recaptured” in modern times. The musical performances are by some of Cuba’s greatest musicians—many long retired at the time the Buena Vista project first emerged.
Calle 54. 2001. Mirimax Home Entertainment. DVD. 106 mins.
The title of this film refers to the 54th street (Calle 54) studios of Sony Music Studios in Manhattan, where a who’s who of luminary Latin jazz artists were filmed and recorded. Includes the last on screen appearance of Tito Puente, as well as performances by Argentine saxophonist Gato Barbieri, Brazilian jazz pianist Eliane Elias, and an emotional reunion between father-and-son Cuban pianists Bebo and Chucho Valdés. Filmed by the Spanish filmmaker Fernando Trueba.
From Mambo to Hip Hop: A Bronx Tale. 2006. Directed by Henry Chalfant. Distributed by MVD Entertainment Group. DVD, 56 min.
Documentary about music in the South Bronx, beginning with the Puerto Rican migration and the adoption of Cuban rhythms to create the New York salsa sound, then tracing the rise of hip-hop and ending with reflections on the power of neighborhood music.
JVC Video Anthology of World Music and Dance: The Americas II. 1990. Distributed by Rounder Records. Vol. 28. VHS.
JVC/Smithsonian Folkways Video Anthology of Music and Dance of the Americas. 1995. JVC/Smithsonian/Folkways. Vol. 4-5. VHS.
The Anthology of World Music and Dance includes an example of a Cuban son performance (with dancing) as well as samba and ritual music performances from Brazil (candomble, capoeira), Andean folk music from Bolivia, and Mexican mariachi and Argentine tango music on Vol. 28 (The Americas II). The Smithsonian Folkways anthology includes ritual Santería performances and a rumba performance from Cuba on its Caribbean volume (Vol. 4, selections 4-2 and 4-3, respectively).
The Mambo Kings. 2005. Warner Home Video. DVD. 104 mins.
Adapted from Oscar Hijuelos’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (also recommended), the 1992 movie version stars Antonio Banderas and Armand Assante as two brothers who leave Cuba for the U.S. in the early 1950s to seek their fame and fortune in the burgeoning New York mambo music scene. Tito Puente and Celia Cruz are featured, and Desi Arnaz Jr. plays the role of his father, Desi Arnaz Sr. of I Love Lucy fame.
Salsa: Latin Pop Music in the Cities. 2000. Shanachie. DVD. 60 mins.
Released in 1979, the film provides a fascinating and informative window into the world of salsa and Latin jazz at a critical historical juncture. Among the highlights: Tito Puente and his band performing at a street festival in the Bronx (New York); Puente jamming with pianist Charlie Palmieri, conga player Ray Barretto and others at a New York wedding; an interview with Rubén Blades; rare footage of a rehearsal featuring Celia Cruz; and Santería ritual performances. A reissue of the original 1979 film in Jeremy Marre’s Beats of the Heart series.
Sworn to the Drum: A Tribute to Francisco Aguabella. 1995. Flower Films. VHS and DVD. 35 mins.
A documentary portrait of an Afro-Cuban master drummer who immigrated to the United States in the 1950s. Through his diverse body of work, Francisco Aguabella contributed to Latin dance music, Latin jazz, salsa, and contemporary popular and fusion musics, while also maintaining a strong identification with traditional forms of Afro-Cuban drumming (batá drumming, rumba). This film was produced by Les Blank in 1985.