To get a good idea of just how far traditional Cuban music can go and still be appreciated, simply give a listen to Duets by veteran Compay Segundo (aka 94-year-old Francisco Repilado).

To get a good idea of just how far traditional Cuban music can go and still be appreciated, simply give a listen to Duets by veteran Compay Segundo (aka 94-year-old Francisco Repilado). Recorded during the past decade (or so)—when Segundo leapt from near obscurity to international fame—Duets spotlights the artist collaborating with a dizzying array of artists, from Lou Bega and Algerian singer Khaled to trova icons Pablo Milanés (providing vocals and guitar on a surprisingly vigorous "Macusa") and Silvio Rodriguez. Even Antonio Banderas and Charles Aznavour make special appearances. Despite the illustrious pairings, the shiniest gems here are the most traditional: "La Juma de Ayer," recorded with Pío Leyva, and Segundo's own "Chan Chan," recorded in the late-'80s with Elíades Ochoa, are priceless. "Linda Graciela," recorded with son Basilio Repilado, is an exercise in understated beauty and excellent ensemble work. The same can't be said for "Lágrimas Negras" with Cesaria Evora, which is disjointed, saved only by Chucho Valdés' exquisite piano solo. But such less obvious pairings as "Baby Keep Smiling," with Bega, and the opening "Saludo a Changó, with Khaled, are lovely guilty pleasures.—LC