×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Compay Segundo

Now that the members of the Buena Vista Social Club have split and are touring individually, the musical message of charm, elegance and propulsive rhythm remains undiminished. At 93, guitarist and singer Compay Segundo is the oldest of the bunch. More than the other Buena Vista alumni, he telegraphs a relaxed feeling in his stage presence, dancing gingerly to his percussionist's beat. In one love song he openly molested his guitar with his hands and his hips. It's amazing what you can get away with in your 90s; the audience loved it.

With:
Band: Compay Segundo, Hugo Garzon, Benito Suarez, Salvador Repilado, Rafael Fournier, Haskell Armenteros, Rafael Iniciarte, Rosendo Nardo.

Now that the members of the Buena Vista Social Club have split and are touring individually, the musical message of charm, elegance and propulsive rhythm remains undiminished. At 93, guitarist and singer Compay Segundo is the oldest of the bunch. More than the other Buena Vista alumni, he telegraphs a relaxed feeling in his stage presence, dancing gingerly to his percussionist’s beat. In one love song he openly molested his guitar with his hands and his hips. It’s amazing what you can get away with in your 90s; the audience loved it.

Segundo opened with backing from bass, a second guitarist and percussion, with Hugo Garzon adding maracas and handling most of the singing. The addition of Garzon is a wise and winning choice; his light tenor allows Segundo’s gravelly bass-baritone to play a strong contrast. The interplay between the two voices creates a feeling of drama that brings depth and subtlety to even the simplest songs.

Having Garzon along also allows Segundo to concentrate on his guitar solos, which are little marvels of composition. Using simple scales and patterns, Segundo enchants with his mastery of rhythm, often racing ahead of the beat, then dropping behind it and using syncopation as a rhythmic exclamation mark. His other musicians are masters as well, but Segundo takes all the solo space, like a man who’s certain he has a lot to say.

After five tunes, three clarinetists joined in (matching the instrumentation on Segundo’s most recent Nonesuch album, “Calle Sud”). Since clarinets are so rarely heard in popular music these days, this added even more of an old-world feeling to the evening. It underscored what’s made the Buena Vista Social Club so popular in the first place — the sense the music conjures of a life lived in pursuit of relaxed and shared beauty, come what may.

Segundo played a 1-1/2-hour set, and it looked like he could have easily handled another hour or two. He and his brethren are a continuing master class in how to play decades-old music with fresh joy and life. Segundo performs Friday at New York City’s Town Hall.

Compay Segundo

John Anson Ford Amphitheatre; 1,230 seats; $55 top

Production: Presented by House of Blues Concerts/Conga Room. Reviewed Aug. 31, 2000.

Cast: Band: Compay Segundo, Hugo Garzon, Benito Suarez, Salvador Repilado, Rafael Fournier, Haskell Armenteros, Rafael Iniciarte, Rosendo Nardo.

More Music

  • Taylor Swift performs on her 30th

    Taylor Swift Celebrates Her 30th Birthday Onstage at New York Jingle Ball

    Taylor Swift celebrated her 30th birthday with over 20,000 of her closest friends onstage at Madison Square Garden for iHeartRadio’s annual Jingle Ball, hosted by New York City’s Z100. Swift took a moment to thank fans for coming to her party. “I had a choice,” she said. “Where would I want to spend my 30th [...]

  • Harry Styles Stevie Nicks

    Harry Styles Brings Out Stevie Nicks, Reworks One Direction Classic at the Forum (Watch)

    Harry Styles strutted, sashayed and transfixed the crowd at the Forum on Friday night (Dec. 13) for his combination record release party and one-night-only superfan affair. “Fine Line,” as his album is titled and the engagement touted on the outside of the venue, featured the live debuts of nine new songs including standout stunners “Golden,” [...]

  • Pete York and Rain Phoenix

    Rain Phoenix Joins Pete Yorn for 'Relator,' Originally Sung With Scarlett Johansson (Watch)

    Ten years before “Señorita,” another famous twosome recorded a romantic duet together: Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson, who joined forces on “Relator.” It was the first single from an entire album of collaborations, 2009’s “Break Up,” which was inspired by the songs of Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot, but fans hardly ever got to hear [...]

  • US Capitol

    The Sneaky Long Game of ALI’s Restatement of Copyright (Guest Column)

    Last week, Senator Thom Tillis and four other members of Congress sent a letter to an organization you may never have heard of, the American Law Institute (ALI).  The letter questions the ALI’s ongoing project to publish a competing version of the Copyright Act – or, as the ALI calls it, a “Restatement” of copyright [...]

  • Tom Petty’s Daughters, Widow Settle Legal

    Tom Petty’s Daughters, Widow Settle Legal Battle Over Estate

    Tom Petty’s widow and daughters from a previous marriage have settled their bitter legal battle, according to a report in Rolling Stone. Earlier this year, Adria Petty and Annakim Violette, the late singer’s daughters with his former wife Jane, sued his second wife, Dana York, for $5 million, alleging that she had deprived them of [...]

  • Desiree Perez attends the Billboard Magazine:

    Desiree Perez Named CEO of Roc Nation

    Desiree Perez has been elevated to CEO of Roc Nation after serving as chief operating officer since 2009. Along with Jay-Z, Perez is a co-founder of Roc Nation. In her new position, Perez is tasked with overseeing all 14 Roc Nation verticals, which includes music management, publishing, sports agency among a slew of diversified businesses, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content