Cuban guitarist Manuel Galbán died nearly a year ago, on July 7, at age 80. His final album, Blue Cha Cha (Concord Picante), was released in the U.S. last week. Like so many other Cuban musicians of his generation, Galbán was introduced to American listeners through the Buena Vista Social Club—though he didn’t get involved until 1998, after the group’s first albums were on their way to becoming global hits. He played on several Buena Vista recordings, including one by singer Ibrahim Ferrer, but he remained most famous in his homeland for his time in Los Zafiros, a sublime Cuban doo-wop ensemble that applied the vocal harmonies of American doo-wop to calypso, bossa nova, boleros, early rock ‘n’ roll, and (natch) various Cuban forms; he joined in 1963 and quit in ’72. In 1999, after the initial success of the Buena Vista Social Club project, World Circuit/Nonesuch Records released a terrific Zafiros compilation called Bossa Cubana, packed with the group’s hits; Galbán’s twangy, reverb-drenched tone is as arresting as the other four members’ harmony singing. You can watch a vintage clip of Los Zafiros performing “Y Sabes Bien” after the jump—it doesn’t show off Galbán’s guitar work as much as some of the other tracks, but the footage is wonderful. His last great record was a 2003 duo with Cooder called Mambo Sinuendo.