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FOLLOWING their sell-out 2007 world tour, Buena Vista Social Club are to return to Britain. With a date at Ipswich's Regent theatre today, the Cuban musicians answer questions about their musical roots and their love of touring.

FOLLOWING their sell-out 2007 world tour, Buena Vista Social Club are to return to Britain. With a date at Ipswich's Regent theatre today, the Cuban musicians answer questions about their musical roots and their love of touring.

What would you say are the musical roots that helped form the Buena Vista sound?

Guajiro Mirabal: “Traditional Cuban music is so rich and has such a variety of styles. Music of the 1940s by the great composers and bandleaders.”

Manuel Galban: “There's no mystery here, they are the roots of our traditional Cuban music.”


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There seems to be as much connection with African music as Latin American - how much would you agree with that?

Cachaíto López: “Well, traditional Cuban music is a mixture of Africa and the European influence, so we have a lot in common with both.”

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Manuel Galban: “It's as much the slaves who came from Africa with their culture, as the Europeans who came with theirs, and the mixture of all these, but the culture that already existed in each which is the music that we know today.

We have the same influences with the different nuances peculiar to each country.”

Guajiro Mirabal: “Of course. One goes to countries in Latin America and one can clearly see that we have the same influences; or if you listen to African music of certain regions we see it is the same music as found in Cuban music.”

Were you at all surprised by the success of the album, Buena Vista Social Club?

Cachaíto López: “Yes, I really was surprised. We were so apart from what was occurring. I recorded and really enjoyed playing with musicians that were also my great friends who have known each other for years, and some musicians that I've known all my life… and the first time we played outside of Cuba I couldn't believe what was happening.”

Jesus “Aguaje” Ramos: “It is impossible not to be surprised. It has been a success worldwide and for many years. When we are on tour around the world we continue to feel the love of the public. We know Buena Vista has changed the musical tastes of many people around the world.”

As musicians, how much do you feel like “icons” of Cuba?

Manuel Galban: “There are too many icons in Cuban music to allow myself to feel on the same level as such great artists. I thank you for your question but I don't consider myself as such.

Guajiro Mirabal: “I play the best I can, I study every day and I try to transmit my music so that it reaches people - this is the only thing I think about.”

Improvisation seems to be quite important, how does that work in the creative and recording process?

Jesus “Aguaje” Ramos: “Improvisation is the blood of music. The passions which transport you during the creative process, where one lets oneself go. People notice this during our concerts.”

There have been many line-up changes over the years, so how much is it true that Buena Vista it about more than any one individual?

Guajiro Mirabal: “There is only one Buena Vista. We have lost many of our original friends, and at times our individual projects of one sort or other, have prevented us from being together as a whole. I think that apart from the film, the only time this took place was in Mexico, where all of us were together again.

This next tour, Eliades Ochoa will be missing as he will be on tour.”

How does it feel bringing the music to new audiences around the world, and what sort of reactions do you receive?

Manuel Galban: “We have been touring round the world all our lives… it's the part of our work which we enjoy the most and the public always receives us with a lot of love.”

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