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Omara Portuondo: Buena Vista Social Club Presents: Omara Portuondo

Album Reviews:

Rolling Stone (8/17/00, p.114) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...A session of blinding beauty....The kind of record that forces you to stop worrying and enjoy life to the fullest...an exquisite trip to the heart of Afro-Cuba."

Q (5/00, p.117) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...Cuba's foremost singer of boleros and 'feeling' music....the album should guarantee, if not pulse-threatening excitement, at least a prolonged warm glow."

The Wire (5/00, p.68) - "...Backed by strings or a smoldering ensemble...Portuondo's singing is beautifully balanced and effortlessly sultry."

CMJ (5/29/00, p.3) - "...Some of the most beautiful, romantic singing you'll hear anywhere..."

JazzTimes (10/00, p.75) - "...A quiet stunner...evoking a palpable, almost cinematic, sense of great musicians generating friction in a funky, charming old studio..."

Mojo (Publisher) (5/00, p.103) - "...[She] reveals a sadness to Cuban music that previous Buena Vista albums have rarely even hinted at. Beautifully orchestrated...and with a wonderfully intimate sound, this is the Feeling Lonely On A Saturday Night album of the year so far."

Album Notes

Personnel includes: Omara Portuondo, Ibrahim Ferrer, Pio Leyva (vocals); Manuel Galban, Eliades Ochoa, Compay Segundo, Benito Suarez (guitar); Gilberto "Papi" Oviedo (tres); Javier Zalba (soprano & alto saxophones); Panteleon Sanchez, Antonio Jimenez (alto saxophone); Rafael "Jimmy" Jenks, Carlos Fernandez (tenor saxophone); Ventura Gutierrez (baritone saxophone); Yaure Muniz (trumpet, flugelhorn); Manuel "Guajiro" Mirabal, Alejandro Pichardo, Yanko Pichardo, Daniel Ramos (trumpet); Jesus "Aguaje" Ramos, Demetrio Muniz, Antonio Leal (trombone); Ruben Gonzalez (piano); Orlando Lopez (bass); Filiberto Sanchez (bongos); Angel Terry Domech (congas); Amadito Valdez (timbales); Alberto "Virgilio" Valdes (maracas, clave).

Recorded at Egrem Studios, Havana, Cuba in December 1999 and January 2000. Includes liner notes by Omara Portuondo.

BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB PRESENTS was nominated for the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album. The album was also nominated for the 2001 Latin Grammy Award for Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album.

As the only female member of the world-famous social club, Omara Portuondo has finally been awarded her laurels by World Circuit in no uncertain style. Accompanied by another roundup of the usual suspects (Eliades Ochoa and Compay Segundo, amongst others), she serves up a sumptuous selection of interpretations, plucking her vocal lines from out of the ether over a full band like she's picking grapes.

Her expert vocalise is superbly complemented by stunning arrangements from Demetrio Muniz, including sweet string quartet habaneras, brass flashes and prowling saxes. Omara's interpretative powers are more than a match, patiently chiselling away until she arrives at the heart of each lyric; her duet with Ibrahim Ferrer on "No Me Llores" turns Arsenio Rodriguez' well-known son montuno into a kitchen-sink drama, alternately pleading, reproachful and forgiving. Producers Nick Gold and Jerry Boys have opted for the kind of dry acoustic that conjures up both the ambience and spacing (minus the staccato chatter and chinking glasses) that you'd have found in the club itself back in the '50s. From the broken spirit of "Veinte Anos" to the last tickle of Ruben Gonzalez' ivories, it's a journey that encompasses more variety than the entire outputs of other artists.


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