The divine diva of Cuban song offers up a mambo-flavoured masterpiece

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Omara Portuondo – Flor De Amor

Omara Portuondo is the sole female member of the Buena Vista Social Club network and, for me, her duet with Ibrahim Ferrer in the Buena Vista movie instantly gave Wim Wenders’ lugubrious film an injection of sexy Cuban attitude. On Flor De Amor (translation: “Flower Of Love”) the 74-year-old diva remains in remarkable voice, crooning in a dark, lived-in yet tender voice over a large Buena Vista backing band. The music remains the classic Cuban boleros (ballads) and hip-swinging mambo workouts of pre-revolution Cuba, while producer Nick Gold has brought in several Brazilian musicians to lend a pan-Latin flavour to the proceedings. Omara remains defiantly old-school?no attempts at salsa or Shakira-type Latin rock crossover. Instead she concentrates on singing with grace, never uttering a false note or over-emoting. In doing so, she’s created a great soundtrack for the summer, and as perfect a Latin album as you could hope to find.