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Introducing Rubén González

Introducing Rubén González cover art

Track Listing

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1La Engañadora (Enrique Jorrín)2:32
2Cumbanchero (Rafael Canchola Hernández)4:35
3Tres Lindas Cubanas (Guillermo Castillo)5:22
4Melodía Del Río (Rubén González)4:42
5Mandinga (Rodríguez Fiffe)8:28
6Siboney (Ernesto Lecuona)2:32
7Almendra (Abelardito Valdés)9:53
8Tumbao (Rubén González)5:11
9Como Siento Yo (Rubén González)2:40

About this Album

To make your first solo album at 77 years old, after more than half a century in music, is unusual. To do so and produce an album as vibrant, dynamic, and spontaneous as Introducing Rubén González, is unique.

Although he was one of the legends of Cuban music, a maestro whose piano playing in the 1940s helped invent the Cuban sound as we know it today, Rubén González had, prior to the album's release in 1997, virtually stopped making music. Suffering with arthritis, he no longer even owns a piano.

Invited to come out of retirement to play first with the Afro-Cuban All Stars and then with Ry Cooder on the Buena Vista Social Club album, his excitement as his supreme touch returned was a joy to behold. Every morning he would be the first to arrive at the studio in Havana, waiting for the doors to be unlocked. Once inside he could play all day, prompting Ry Cooder to dub him “the greatest piano soloist I have ever heard in my life.”

Producer Nick Gold also swiftly realized this was a very special performer who deserved his own showcase and Rubén, who made his first recordings in 1943 with the great Arsenio Rodríguez, was invited 53 years later to record his debut solo effort. Rubén’s answer, in his own words, was, “OK. Let’s go for it!,” and choosing his own favorite musicians and songs, he recorded the album in just two days without overdubs. The music flowed out of him like a torrent, and the result is a thrillingly live sound on extended versions of a selection of classic Cuban compositions and rhythms.

The repertoire includes the cha cha cha of “La Engañadora,” written by Enrique Jorrín, with whom Rubén played for 25 years; the classic danzón of “Tres Lindas Cubanas”; the extended jam or descarga of “Tumbao”; the guaracha of “Mandinga”; and the bolero of “Como Siento Yo.” All are played in Rubén’s distinctive and individual style: his phrasing is immaculate, his touch is imaginative but sure and the chemistry with his fellow musicians is intuitive.

Introducing Rubén González was a long time coming. At home in Cuba he needed no introduction for he had long been regarded as a national treasure. On this album, the rest of the world finally gets to share the secret.


Rubén González, piano
Orlando “Cachaíto” Lopez, bass
Mañuel “Guajiro” Mirabal, trumpet
Amadito Valdés, timbales
Roberto García, bongos, güiro, cowbell
Carlos González, congas
Alberto “Virgilio” Valdés, maracas
Carlos Puisseaux, güiro
Juan de Marcos González, Manuel “Puntillita” Licea, Antonio “Maceo” Rodríguez, chorus vocals
Richard Egües, flute on “Tres Lindas Cubanas”

Produced by Nick Gold
Arranger and conductor: Juan de Marcos González
Recorded and mixed by Jerry Boys
Recorded at Egrem Studios, Havana, April 1996
Mixed at Livingston Studios, London
Mastered by Duncan Cowell at Sound Mastering, London

Design by Kathryn Samson
Photographs by Cristina Piza
Additional photos by Lucy Duran


This album is available from Nonesuch in the United States and Canada only.

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