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Standing ovation for Omara Portuondo in Boston

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Thursday October 13, 2016

From The Boston Globe

‘Buena Vista’ star Omara Portuondo is 85. But you wouldn’t know it from her two-hour-long Cambridge concert.
By: Bill Beuttler

Omara Portuondo will turn 86 later this month, but you might not have guessed it from the two-plus-hour performance she put on Wednesday at Sanders Theatre. Her still-strong voice only increased in power as the evening progressed. This seasoned performer paced herself and her set list brilliantly, aided by featured guests Anat Cohen and Regina Carter.

Fittingly for a World Music/CRASHarts production, Carter and Cohen hail respectively from Detroit and Tel Aviv. Portuondo, the lone surviving vocalist from the Buena Vista Social Club lineup made famous by Ry Cooder and Wim Wenders in the late ’90s, is from Havana, along with her band of pianist Roberto Fonseca, bassist Yandy Martinez, drummer Ramses Rodriguez, and percussionist Andres Coayo.

The music they made together had universal appeal. It began with Portuondo calling comic attention to her age, hiking her dress above her ankle to reveal the white socks she was wearing with her sandals. She took a seat on a stool as she and her band launched into the lively “Lagrimas Negras,” but rose to her feet a few beats in and urged the audience to stand up and dance with her.

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