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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

OMARA PORTUONDO

By Marie Elsie St. Leger
Published September 13, 2005

Flor de Amor
Nonesuch/World Circuit

Flor de Amor aims to please. The collection of mostly boleros boasts a band comprising Cubans and Brazilians. Portuondo, well into her fifth decade as a performer, employs subtlety rather than vocal calisthenics to convey deeply felt emotion. Yet the singer still relishes letting go, even if just a little: She does her own version of "Mueve la Cintura Mulata" here, swinging the charanga as fiercely as country-boy guitarist Eliades Ochoa. But the bolero is where Portuondo feels most at home. She sings lovingly of her home town, "Hermosa Habana," and is as tender as ever on the Portuguese original, the Carlinhos Brown-penned "Casa Calor."