What makes Eliades Ochoa one of the most enjoyable artists of the modern Cuban folk movement? His exquisite guitar playing? His consummate band-leading skills? His adventurous embrace of musicians and

What makes Eliades Ochoa one of the most enjoyable artists of the modern Cuban folk movement? His exquisite guitar playing? His consummate band-leading skills? His adventurous embrace of musicians and styles outside his rural roots? All of the above, and more. On his third solo album since hitting the big time with Buena Vista Social Club, Ochoa clings to the sound of the Cuban countryside but also stretches a bit, enlisting the likes of David Hidalgo (Los Lobos) and Raul Malo (the Mavericks). Repertoire-wise, too, Estoy Como Nunca ranges widely, from traditional son ("Pena") to Cuban neo-classicism (Ernesto Lecuona's instrumental standard "Siboney") to the Mexican-flavored Malo duet "No Me Preguntes Tanto." As he has done before, Ochoa also makes a bold foray into tango, closing with a piercing, solo rendition of the Carlos Gardel/Alfredo Le Pera heartbreaker "Sus Ojos Se Cerraron." This is an artist with his feet planted on Cuban soil and his limbs reaching toward Spain, Africa, the Americas, and beyond.—PV