Havana [1990]

Some surprising cross-cultural collaborations are the main attraction of Bridge to Havana, which documents the 1999 journey by dozens of American and British musicians to Cuba, where they wrote, recorded, and performed songs with their island counterparts. While political rapprochement between the American and Cuban governments may still be a fantasy, there were no certainly no problems among the musicians; indeed, the process of creating new partnerships by literally drawing names out of a hat created some unexpectedly fruitful results. If, for example, putting Jimmy Buffett, Fleetwood Mac's Mick Fleetwood, the Chieftains' Paddy Moloney, Cuba's Augusto Enriquez, and various others in the studio and onstage together (for the song "One World") seems farfetched, for the most part it works. The performances on this hour-long disc come both from the studio (Gladys Knight with various Cubans, Peter Frampton with Alberto Tosca) and from the concert that concluded the trip (Joan Osborne, who did such great work in Standing in the Shadows of Motown, is excellent again here). Given the brief amount of time the musicians had to get acquainted and write material together, the songs they came up with can be a bit on the obvious side, but there's no denying the spirit at work throughout this interesting, entertaining program. --Sam Graham

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