[Marxism] Manuel Galbán, Guitarist With Cuban Bands, Dies at 80

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Jul 9 09:43:58 MDT 2011

Los Zafiros: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFCG2TIEAjY

(I own a Los Zafiros CD. It is great!)

NY Times July 8, 2011
Manuel Galbán, Guitarist With Cuban Bands, Dies at 80

Manuel Galbán, a Cuban guitarist best known for his work with the 
all-star ensemble Buena Vista Social Club and its various offshoots, 
died on Thursday in Havana. He was 80.

The cause was cardiac arrest, said World Circuit Records, the British 
label for which he most recently recorded.

Mr. Galbán was not on the 1997 album “Buena Vista Social Club,” produced 
by the American guitarist Ry Cooder, which created an international 
sensation by showcasing a number of veteran musicians who were virtually 
unknown outside Cuba. But he quickly became part of the extended Buena 
Vista Social Club family after Mr. Cooder tracked him down in 1999 to 
play on an album by Ibrahim Ferrer, one of the Buena Vista singers.

He went on to collaborate with Mr. Cooder on the album “Mambo Sinuendo,” 
which won a Grammy as best pop instrumental album in 2004, and to record 
with the bassist Orlando Cachaito López and other Buena Vista musicians.

Mr. Galbán made his initial splash in the 1960s as the guitarist with 
the vocal group Los Zafiros, which mixed traditional Cuban music with 
calypso, rhythm and blues and other styles. During his decade-long 
tenure, Los Zafiros was among the most popular groups in Cuba and 
developed an international following.

“Mr. Galbán was one of the wonders of Cuban music in the 1960s,” Jon 
Pareles of The New York Times wrote in 2003. “His playing pulled 
together two almost contradictory approaches: the floating reverb of 
surf guitar and the percussive, snapping sound of the tres, the small 
guitar that’s a fulcrum between rhythm and melody in Cuban son groups.”

In an interview published this year in the Cuban Communist Party 
newspaper Granma and reprinted in English on the newspaper’s Web site, 
Mr. Galbán explained his approach to the guitar: “I combine fast 
passages with arpeggios, while making appropriate use of the bass 
strings. In that way I give the sensation that more than one musician is 
playing.” It was this unusual approach that led Mr. Cooder, who played a 
crucial role in the later phase of Mr. Galbán’s career, to call him a 
“guitar wizard.”

Buena Vista Social Club, an ensemble organized by Mr. Cooder that took 
its name from a membership club where many of its musicians had 
performed in pre-Castro Cuba, was the subject of a celebrated 1999 
documentary directed by Wim Wenders.

Born in 1931 in the small fishing town of Gibara, Cuba, Mr. Galbán began 
his professional career — playing piano and drums as well as guitar — 
with the Villa Blanca Orchestra in 1944. He moved to Havana in 1956 and 
joined Los Zafiros in 1963. After leaving Los Zafiros in 1972 (the group 
disbanded shortly afterward), he worked with Cuba’s national music 
ensemble and toured for more than two decades with Grupo Batey.

Information on survivors was not immediately available.

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