Eliades Ochoa Tributo al Cuarteto Patria

Buena Vista Social Club is synonymous with the many sounds of Cuban son, the traditional blend of rough-hewn rural rhythms and melodies with the more cosmopolitan airs of pre-Revolutionary Havana, at least from the perspective of a Canadian. But, for Cubans, Cuarteto Patria has been playing that role for 60 years now. Eliades Ochoa, perhaps the most unassuming member of Buena Vista to re-launch a solo career after that project's runaway success, also became a charter member of Cuarteto Patria, more than 20 years ago, when the band was doggedly keeping the torch of Afro-Cuban music burning in the days before the ministrations of Ry Cooder helped bring son to a more global audience. So, Ochoa is the logical choice to pay tribute to the band on its 60th anniversary, and perhaps true to the rustic spirit of the band, this is no Buena Vista reunion, but a gathering of Ochoa's family and friends. Fans of Ochoa's wonderful solo album of 1999, Sublime Illusion, will feel instantly at home here in his effortless renderings, which cover the full 60 years of the band's life, largely because Ochoa's work, available in these climes already, imbibes all those sounds and sensitively mixes them into timelessness. And Ochoa is surely one of the most underrated vocalists alive, singing with an offhanded dignity and a reedy full-throatedness that belies his broad, leathery face that looks like a handsome baseball glove. Ostensibly, this album is partly about history, but what it really does is make you lose all sense of time. (Virgin)