Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Los Zafiros Music from the Edge of Time|
Actors: Manuel Galban, Miguel Cancio, Los Nuevos Zafiros, Manolin - El Medico de Salsa, Juana Bacallao
Director: Lorenzo DeStefano
As John, Paul, George and Ringo were forming the Beatles in Liverpool in the early 1960s, another band was coming together in the tough district of Cayo Hueso in Havana. Playing a brilliant mix of American inspired Doo Wop... more »
Somethiong Different and Beautiful
Thomas D. Ryan | New York | 08/29/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Are you getting tired of hearing the same thing over and over again? Are you in the mood for something different, but don't know where to start? "Los Zafiros: Music from the Edge of Time" might be just what you are looking for, even if you don't know it. Don't expect this DVD to be on display in a special showcase at your local Shop-a-Mart; this is a special-niche documentary that achieves big results with little fanfare. Los Zafiros were a Cuban band that achieved superstardom in their home country and Europe in a post-Bay of Pigs universe that prevented them (along with a language barrier) from being heard in America. In 1964, Los Zafiros were the second most popular act in Cuba, after the Beatles. Their sound relied heavily on the Platters, but also has a touch of Smokey Robinson's Miracles, the Drifters, and the Flamingoes. The music takes the traditional American-style doo-wop and stylizes it into something extraordinary by stretching past the typical baion rhythms of American vocal groups, including bossa nova, calypso, mamba, bolero, cumbia, and any other Latin rhythm you care to name. The DVD concentrates on the story of the band, from their startling rise to fame, and the sadness of their eventual fall.
In one sense, this film would make an excellent precursor to the "Buena Vista Social Club". If you enjoyed that movie, then "Los Zafiros" is sure to please. The historic documentary footage is classic and thoroughly engaging, even when the `special effects' betray a complete lack of sophistication. The film quality may be lacking, but the band's performances are never less than stellar, especially in scenes that portray the entire five-piece band at their prime.
For anyone under the age of 50, the very word "Cuba" evokes a deep sense of mystery. It is a culture that has been hidden from us for a half century, but "Los Zafiros: Music from the Edge of Time" shows us not only how different we were, but also how alike we really are. The contemporary scenes, where the two surviving bandmembers go in search of their history, are occasionally funny, but often extremely sad. One scene that shows a bandmember's brother playing an emotionally quavering version of "My Prayer" ("Mi Oracion") literally moved me to tears. We have been denied access to Cuban culture for too long, but this film goes a long way toward filling in some of the gaps caused by global politics. You should see "Los Zafiros" for the music, but it's also worthwhile because it helps us understand a culture that is far outside this American world of ours. Naturally, you should expect some subtitles. A- Tom Ryan"
Interesting but not necessarily compelling
The Delite Rancher | Phoenix, Arizona | 09/20/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"American listeners are most familiar with Manuel Galbán for his role in "Buena Vista Social Club." In that project, he only played an accompanying role. As a follow-up, "Mambo Sinuendo" stands as his most outstanding contribution. Those who were wooed by the instrumental guitar album will appreciate learning about the group that originally put Galbán on the musical map. Los Zafiros were a Cuban doo-wop group from the 1960's. Back in the day, they were all the rage. As an international phenomenon, the group traveled the world before returning home to implode. With the help of the surviving band members and those who lived through it all, "Music from the Edge of Time" is a nostalgic look at 'The Sapphires.' The film is interesting, but that's not the same as compelling. The best way appreciate this project may be to compare it with its theatrical peer, "Buena Vista Social Club." While Ry Cooder's movie was a celebration of something vibrant and alive, "Music from the Edge of Time" is a look back at something long gone. Beyond this, the music hasn't aged well. Buena Vista Social Club played music that was simultaneously vintage yet timeless. Unless you happened to grow up in Cuba during the 1960's, Los Zafiros tend to sound like old Spanish language pop. Indeed, Los Zafiros have little to offer that would attract today's world music listener. The exception to this is the music played in the film by the surviving members. Whether played in a bar or studio, the contemporary music is on a level of quality with "Buena Vista Social Club" and Ibrahim Ferrer's eponymous album. "Music from the Edge of Time" would have been stronger had it included more music played by the surviving members. Parts of the film are moving and exciting while other moments seem a dirge to the past. The overall production is good, but not 'major motion picture good.' Cuban enthusiasts will relish the film while those who aren't already familiar with the group should probably skip "Music from the Edge of Time.""
Los Zafiros: Untold history that can't be told
Jake E. | florida USA | 12/07/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"1962, Cuba. "Señores" (Mr.) are now "Compañeros or Camaradas" (Comrades) as in USSR, Che Guevara introduces the concept of "Hombre Nuevo" (New Man). Prostitution, Cabarets, Casinos, Night Life, Vitrolas are considered "vicious of the imperialism", like the rock, doo-wop, jazz, and american music. Luis Bravo, the only successful cuban rock singer ever, was criticized and never returned to the country after a USA tour that year. In the 70's songs sung in English were forbidden, Radio and TV promoted "Nueva Trova" and "Salsa", in the early 70's the Cuban Underground Rock dissapear.
Los zafiros, the best vocal cuban group ever, played american style music, like the Platters or the Motown Sound, but at the same time they mixed cuban rythms and Bossa Nova, so they found the way to perform on TV and cuban Radio. But the Zafiro's life style never match the image of the "Hombre Nuevo" and they suddenly and misteriously vanished(?). There was no public information at all. Kike, "El Chino" and Ignacio, 3 great lead singers never could sing as solist after the rupture (???!!!). Kike and Ignacio died in the eighties, some years after. In 1992 Jorge Dalton made "Herido de Sombras", the first revival of forgotten Zafiros (and forgotten Cuban music). This is a hard to find documentary that shows "El Chino" still alive, his last days living in poverty, without a helping hand, and treated unrespectfully.
Los zafiros: Music From The Edge of Time could not be done using Press, magazines or any otrer material as source of information. Instead, the other 2 members of the group told the story. Cancio is an exiled, who has family in Cuba and who likes to visit his country. Galvan is an active musician, living "well" in Cuba(better than ordinary citizens), and had to keep his status ( so: don't say nothing!). Unfortunately we probabily never know the whole true history of Zafiros.
I do believe the archival clips worth 5 starts by itself, I'm giving 3 because It looks like Cancio & Galvan were the most important members of Los Zafiros, and they really weren't. The roll played by founder Nestor Milli is dismissed and usurped by Galvan.
Los Zafiros were at the Top of the Cuban Music in the Sixties, they could have been reach any market, even singing in spanish. Lack of promotion. What a group!!"