ELIADES OCHOA AND CUARTETO PATRIA at the Capitol Events Theatre (2492 Yonge), Sunday (April 8). $28.50. 416-322-3322, 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
there's a misconception that the Buena Vista Social Club recreated the sound of old Havana. In fact, the bluesy style of roots music at the heart of the Buena Vista concept is really the sound of Santiago de Cuba, or more specifically that rural region's best- loved combo, Cuarteto Patria.
So it's no mere coincidence that both groups have guitar virtuoso Eliades Ochoa in common. The soulful repertoire Ochoa established with Cuarteto Patria since taking over leadership in 78 was largely adopted by the Buena Vista Social Club.
The similarities are clear when you hear the joyously rowdy Tributo Al Cuarteto Patria (Virgin) jam session that Ochoa recorded to commemorate his group's 60-year history. Yet Ochoa doesn't appear to be the least bit bitter about other people profiting from his creation.
"I've got no regrets about being a part of the Buena Vista Social Club," the wise-cracking Ochoa insists from Havana through a translator. "Now that I'm playing with Cuarteto Patria again, I've noticed that our audiences have tripled, our earnings have tripled and my hats are worth three times as much!"
Although Ochoa has been involved in a few interesting cross-cultural collaborations involving Manu Dibango and Charlie Musselwhite, his most adventurous string-slinging has always been reserved for Cuarteto Patria.
Certainly, now that the Buena Vista manifestation of Ochoa's Santiago sound seems to have run its course, Cuarteto Patria are well positioned to pick up where the Social Club left off.
"Cuarteto Patria has been my group for over 20 years now. These guys are more than friends, they are like my family. Being with them and playing traditional Cuban music together is what brings me real happiness. I would never leave this group for anything."
At a relatively youthful 55, Ochoa could conceivably continue on with Cuarteto Patria for another 30 years. However, there is some doubt whether the group's traditional sound can exist in a post-Castro Cuba. Even if Disney annexes the island for its Pirates Of The Caribbean adventure, Ochoa is confident his music will live on.
"Neither my father, my mother nor Fidel Castro were around when people began playing the traditional style of Cuban music back in the 18th century. We're still playing it now in 2001, and we'll continue playing it!"