Cuban treasure Portuondo brings bewitching voice to House of Blues

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Saturday August 13, 2016

From The Houston Chronicle

Cuban treasure Portuondo brings bewitching voice to House of Blues
By: Andrew Dansby

Omara Portuondo met American listeners 20 years ago, even though she’d been a legend in her native Cuba for nearly four decades at that point.

Time is worth considering with regard to Cuba and music because the sounds of the island were so scarce for so long. American musician Ry Cooder found a way to release an album 20 years ago that proved an international hit. “Buena Vista Social Club” put some of the island’s venerable musicians on a record that slipped through an embargo loophole.

Though the combined age of the performers was centuries, the music was ageless. Twenty years later, though, the performers are not.

Most of the prominent players on “Buena Vista Social Club” have gone: pianist Rubén González died at 84, guitarist and tres player Compay Segundo died at 95, and singer Manual “Puntillita” Licea died at 79 – all three in 2003. Singer Ibrahim Ferrer passed in 2005 at 78, and bassist Orlando “Cachaíto” López, who played on all of their post-rediscovery albums, died at 76 in 2009.

Suffice to say, Portuondo’s presence at House of Blues next Wednesday is a rare opportunity, simply based on the fact that she’s nearly 86. She’ll be accompanied by BVSC friend Eliades Ochoa, who is a sprightly 70.

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