See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Wednesday, July 26, 2000

Join the club

Posted By on Wed, Jul 26, 2000 at 12:00 AM

It seems only fitting that, after a stunning half-century career, Omara Portuondo, known as Cuba’s Fiancee of Feeling, is showcased in the premier series of Latin music, Buena Vista Social Club. Her self-titled album is the latest Buena Vista offering in a collection of CDs that has truly revolutionized Cuban music.

In a departure from the club’s trend of introducing elderly musicians who somehow escaped international attention (such as pianist Ruben Gonzalez or vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer), Portuondo has long been considered one of Cuba’s musical legends.

Over the past two decades, she has led a double career, alternating between contemporary post-revolutionary salsa recordings with stars such as Adalberto Alvarez and Los Van Van’s Cesar Pedroso and traditional pre-Castro son and boleros. However, in a historic 50-year career, Portuondo will undoubtedly connect with this groundbreaking recording.

Earlier this year, Nick Gold returned to Cuba to record a follow-up Buena Vista album with Omara Portuondo. During the legendary sessions in 1996 when producers Gold and Ry Cooder were recording the first Buena Vista albums, Portuondo was by coincidence at the Egrem studios. They invited her to record one song and her passionate bolero, “Veinte Anos,” became a standout on the now-classic album.

These new sessions with Portuondo mark the first Buena Vista album without Cooder’s twangy slide guitar, hence, making it a true “Cuban” album.

Perhaps what is most remarkable about these recordings is how producer Nick Gold created a unique atmosphere for every song. Each received a different treatment with its own orchestration to reflect its period in Cuban music. From heartfelt boleros such as “No Me Vayas A Enganar” to scorching mambos such as “Donde Estabas Tu?,” Portuondo shows why Cubans gave her that nickname.

Dan Rosenberg writes about music for the Metro Times. E-Mail letters@metrotimes.com.

Tags:

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 21, 2020

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit