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Cuba: Island Of Music (DVD)

Various Artists    Unrated   DVD

Price: CDN$ 14.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cuba - Island of Music Oct. 12 2011
By Carlos E. Velasquez - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
The Buena Vista phenomenon appears to be slowly fading away, but Cuba is still there, continuously generating and exporting great music to the world. And, still there, too, are producers and filmmakers that travel to that island to see what this is all about. The vibrant and aptly called "Cuba - Island of Music" is another passionate attempt to explain the immense musical treasure that Cuba represents.
Right at the beginning of the documentary, we meet Gary Keys -- its director --, in New York City, where he speaks about the origins of the film. He indicates that he was going to teach a class in Cuba. Once there, he realizes that everybody is playing music, and tries to understand the reason for that. For this purpose, he interviews some of the players - some music legends - in New York City and Cuba, such as composer Chico O'Farrill (before his death), jazz pianist Billy Taylor, and percussionist Candido Camero. We enjoy O'Farrill with his band playing at New York's Birdland, and Camero and Taylor doing the same at a different venue.
The movie moves back and forth between Cuba and New York, and Keys captures music in almost every corner of the island. We witness, for example, -- and sometimes under a lot of rain -- street rumbas, a festival on the Chinese presence in Cuba, Afro-Cuban religious chants and rituals, a trip to Cuba's Instituto Superior de Arte and Universidad de las Artes, and more. And, of course, there is the music, and Keys got a lot of that. We enjoy partial performances by renowned Orquesta Aragón, Grupo Cohiba, Jóvenes Clásicos del Son, Manolín (el Médico de la Salsa), a new version of the legendary Los Zafiros, and others. Keys also takes us to some of the island's famous night clubs, such as La Cecilia, Palacio de la Salsa, Dos Gardenias, and La Zorra y el Cuervo. And then, there are the beaches and lots of girls.
"Cuba - Island of Music" is truly a labor of love, from somebody that really loves music, and Gary Keys rightfully concludes by saying, "I am not going to allow my joy of life to be ruled because you are trying to oppress us." And that's the way it should be, carajo. (USA, 2004, color, 72 min). Exclusively reviewed on October 12, 2011 by Eric Gonzalez. MVD Visual / Wienerworld.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Musical journey that'll leave an impression Oct. 17 2011
By DVD Verdict - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
James A. Stewart , DVD Verdict --Gary Keys went to Cuba not just as a filmmaker, but as a representative of Columbia University, teaching a masterclass. The director came back with Cuba: Island of Music, a souvenir he could share.

The movie delivers on the title, showing all aspects of Cuban music and dance, from Afro-Cuban jazz performers to Chinese musicians in Havana to bolero in a nightclub, and the joyous reactions of spectators. Young musicians learning to play also get a few minutes in the spotlight. Interspersed with these scenes, there are glimpses of Cuban life, such as players standing for the national anthem at a baseball game, socialist billboards, chess players, and outdoor markets.

Each section of Island of Music is introduced by Keys as he drives his car around New York City, and there are a few people--both in Cuba and back in New York--commenting on the Cuban love of music or the longtime U.S. embargo of Cuba. Keys keeps them short, mostly showing his story instead of telling it, thus creating a more powerful portrait of the Cuban people.

Keys shows viewers a land in which music permeates everything--even on the beach, with bathers dancing on the sand--through the musical montages which form the bulk of Island of Music. His blending of visuals and music gives the film a feeling of energy and gets viewers involved, not just in the music, but in the lives of the people he filmed. Among the more interesting scenes are an old car catching fire on the street and a woman buying a meager portion of meat in a butcher shop. These scenes of everyday reality, contrasted with lively crowds at performances, show that strong will Keys tells us about in a way no narration could.

There are some quibbles--the verbal portions of the movie include one slightly muffled interview segment, the names of the people Keys interviews could be shown on the screen, and there must have been some extra footage that could have been included--but it's a musical journey that'll leave an impression.

-Full review at dvdverdict.com
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I learned nothing from watching this video Oct. 21 2013
By AbuelaLinda - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
It was quite limited in scope and seemed like mostly a music professor's trip video with him being the star. Poor quality, not much variety in the music. I am planning to go to Cuba in 2014 and I really wanted to hear about some interesting contemporary Cuban music.
5.0 out of 5 stars AMEN BROTHER! April 13 2014
By Richard Navarro - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Just finished watching this film. In my opinion, Mr. Keys did an excellent job. if your intention is to learn a little more about the music, in particular, the sources, not historical but living, then you too will appreciate this work. With the assistance of Mr. OFarrill and educator Mr. Billy Taylor, a musician cannot come away feeling inspired and energized about this music latina. This film is not only about the Cuban music but Mr. Keys also includes philosophical input from la juventud along with comments from local musicians. I enjoyed the Santeria service and found it very informative, if not provocative. Mr. Keys doesn't have to say that's where this music comes from. He shows you. If there is a downside to this film, it's that Mr. Keys ventures into the political history and continuing reality of the US Cuba relationship. Oh well we deserve the leaders we elect. ( we STILL elect ours?) All in all, I really enjoyed this film and found it very entertaining...you will too!

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