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World Circuit continues its acclaimed series of Cuban recordings with this lavishly packaged double-CD, including several of the musicians featured on a trio of releases from 1997 that have together sold over 500,000 units. The Estrellas (stars of Cuba's state-owned Areito label) is an unequalled collection of thirty of Cuba's finest musicians, spanning four generations. The band was brought together in Havana's Egrem Studios in 1979 for a special five-day session that produced these extraordinary recordings. These historic recordings have long been difficult to find. They are now available in digitally-remastered sound, with full lyrics, liner notes, and rare photos from the label now acknowledged as the definitive source for the best in Cuban music.
Call it the original Buena Vista Social Club. Back in 1979 a crew of Cuba's best musicians got together in Egrem Studios in Havana and recorded epic sessions that were later issued on Egrem's Areito label. Brought together by African musical impresario Raoul Diomandé, and under the direction of trombonist Juan Pablo Torres, these 30 "stars" poured their hearts into a series of long, energetic tracks (running 7 to 15 minutes apiece) that burn up the aluminum on the two CDs they are now housed on. Many names leap out of the roster: Paquito D'Rivera, RubÃ©n GonzÃ¡lez, Israel Perez, Pio Leyva, and Arturo Sandoval just for a start. They are small parts in a group that spanned three generations from across the island, and they fused the violin-based tipicas with the tres and horns of the jazzier conjuntos to create a sound that shook the city and spread out to the world. Torres's inventive arrangements and his willingness to allow for a lot of improvisation within that framework mark this as an exciting adventure. "i"--Louis Gibson