La Colección Cubana
Nascente / UK (www.musicclub.com)
Singer Omara Portuondo, known for her role in the Buena Vista Social Club project, has been called "Cuba's Edith Piaf," marking her unparalleled interpretation of the romantic, ballad-like filin ("feeling") style, a fluid combination of jazz, pop and Cuban son influences. This 16-track collection recuperates archival recordings from the most prolific period of her pre-Buena Vista career. Like so many other compilations, however, there is no indication of personnel or recording particulars. This is unfortunate because the overall musicianship of the vocal and instrumental accompanists is uniformly superb. The otherwise informative notes offer considerable insight into Portuondo's career, however. Her silky, ethereal, jazz-inflected voice is the focus here, and fans will not be disappointed on that account, as Portuondo covers many Cuban classics, including "Échale Salsita," "Siboney," "Dos Gardenias," "Bésame Mucho" and "Guajira Guantanamera," along with lesser-known but equally worthy tunes. - Michael Stone
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