There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
It’s easy to understand why people might be sick of all things Buena Vista. With coverage of the group and the documentary film having saturated the mainstream press, and record companies now releasing any old tapes they can find by ensemble members, and even relatives of members (Eliades Ochoa’s wife Maria Ochoa), it might be time to say that enough is enough. But the third official release, Buena Vista Social Club Presents Omara Portuondo, sounds so gorgeous that it’s nearly impossible to remain cynical. The sole female member of the club, Portuondo brought a tear to many a filmgoers’ eye with her own tears when concluding her face-to-face duet with Ibrahim Ferrer on the melancholy “Silencio.” Her relaxed and often sad tone on the album is similarly affecting. The Edith Piaf of Cuba doesn’t try anything really new, but her reworkings of classic slow-dance boleros and habaneras, backed by a big band, are exquisite. Although Portuondo primarily croons, this onetime dancer throws in a more upbeat mambo and a son montuno to demonstrate her still-extant range—and to let her Buena Vista supporting cast show off their rhythmic chops. And though Portuondo’s touring band will not include most of Buena Vista’s finest, the unit’s lute player, Barbarito Torres, will open the show, which starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Warner Theatre, 513 13th St. NW. $15-$55. (202) 783-4000. (Steve Kiviat)