Bola de Nieve | Chicago Reader

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The phenomenal success of the Buena Vista Social Club hasn't done much for the legacy of Cuban singer-pianist Bola de Nieve (aka Ignacio Villa, 1911-'71), but this serviceable 2003 video documentary reveals him to be a singular talent. Villa made his mark accompanying diva Rita Montaner and then struck out on his own, combining the rhythmic sophistication of Afro-Cuban drumming and the harmonic palette of classical music in a showbiz package reminiscent of Louis Armstrong. Director Jose Sanchez-Montes traces Villa's career using performance footage and extensive interviews with friends, associates, and musical contemporaries, but he steers clear of a complicated personal life that was colored by homosexuality, revolutionary politics, and Santeria. In Spanish with subtitles. 73 min.

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