Omara Portuondo Buena Vista Social Club Presents

As the Buena Vista Social Club gets farther from the original Ry Cooder finagled reunion of forgotten Cuban master musicians, and moves towards being a marketable brand name, it has begun to fade, resembling only a shadow of its former, brilliant self. That's not to say that beautiful singer Omara Portuondo has not made a lovely album for her solo debut under the BVSC brand name, but simply that the jig is close to up. Where the original BVSC album featured a who's who of Cuban superstars - at that point mostly unknown to the world - now the original stars (Ibrahim Ferrer, Compay Segundo, Eliades Ochoa) drop by to contribute to one track, leaving the rest to a session band, who competently work through Portuondo's itinerary of standards, some of which have all the life of a nursing home ballroom. Where Portuondo was adding her distinct voice to a roomful of the best Cuban musicians, now she stands front and centre, but the band has largely moved on, and the moment has passed. She's left to sing to herself, as Cuban musicians have been doing for nearly half a decade, but with the BVSC stamp, she can at least rest assured that more people will hear her lonely lament than ever before. (Nonesuch)