The 1997 runaway smash BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB is the gift that keeps on giving. In the wake of the album's success, a number of its key performers, including Ruben Gonzalez and Ibrahim Ferrer, released solo albums, and in 2005, trumpeter Manuel "Guajiro" Mirabal added his name to that distinguished list. Like his cohorts in the Buena Vista project, Mirabal embodies the musical traditions of Cuba, specializing in classic conjunto, with traces of mambo, rhumba, and bolero in the mix. At the time of this recording, Mirabal's first solo album, he was 71 years old.
Though Mirabal has played in countless orchestra and ensemble since the '40s, and has likely run through the entire Afro-Cuban repertoire in that time, this album is devoted almost exclusively to the music of pioneering Cuban visionary Arsenio Rodriguez. Rodriguez cast the die for modern salsa conjunto, and the instrumentation Mirabal chooses--three trumpets, piano, tres, guitar, percussion, and a rotating roster of lead and backing vocalists--is a classic conjunto configuration. Mirabal evokes the sound of a '40s Havana dancehall, and the playing is superb, with danceable polyrhythms, impassioned vocals, and plenty of dazzling brass work. This is another score for BUENA VISTA fans.