Errol NAzareth ’s MuSic REviews


jUNE 2006

          “LOS ZAFIROS-MUSIC FROM THE EDGE OF TIME” is a documentary on a legendary Cuban group that screens this Sunday (June 12) as part of the NORTH BY NORTHEAST Music & Film Festival, at the National Film Board Cinema, 150 John Street .

          We began with a song from an anthology of Los Zafiros hits titled BOSSA CUBANA. I’m glad this film is showing this week – it gave me an excuse to get reacquainted with a wonderful record that I’ve had in my collection since 1999.

I really got into it when I first bought it because it was so different from anything that’s I’d heard from Cuba .

          Los Zafiros were a five-man vocal group inspired by acts like the Platters that formed in Havana in 1962. Their slogan was “four voices and a guitar” and their genius was their ability to blend styles like doo-wop, bolero, and bossa nova into a sound that made them a phenomenon in Cuba into the late 60s. And, according to the album’s liner notes, they even toured West Africa and parts of Europe there they were a hit.

          Sadly, these guys live the rock and roll life to the max – which led to them falling out of favour with concert promoters and the media and basically imploding. They disbanded in 1975, one member dies in’81, one dies a year later, and another in 1995.

          Directed by Canadian Lorenzo DeStefano, “LOS ZAFIROS-MUSIC FROM THE EDGE OF TIME” is a beautifully shot and loving portrait of the group which recorded only three albums. “This film was made to celebrate the brief life and complex times of a very special group. Their music is the soundtrack of a neglected historical period bordering the edge of time,” DeStefano, who lives on Pender Island, says.

          There’s some great archival footage here – I really dug the sharp suits and the Motown-type choreography – along with interviews with friends and families of the group as well as with the two surviving members, Miguel Cancio and Manuel Galban. Galban, by the way, is a member of the Buena Vista Social Club and he collaborated with Ry Cooder two years ago on a great record titled “Mambo Sinuendo”.

          For more information on the film go to www.loszafirosfilm.com.