Personnel: Ruben Gonzalez (piano); Juan De Marcos Gonzalez (conductor, vocals); Manuel "Puntillita" Licea, Antonio "Maceo" Rodriguez (vocals); Richard Egues (flute); Manuel "Guajiro" Mirabal (trumpet); Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez (bass); Roberto Garcia (bongos, guiro, cowbell); Amadito Valdes (timbales); Carlos Gonzalez (congas); Alberto "Virgilio" Valdes (maracas); Carlos Puisseaux (guiro).
Recorded at Egrem Studios, Havana, Cuba, April 1996. Includes liner notes by Nigel Williamson and Ruben Gonzalez.
The most jazz-oriented of the elderly musicians in the Buena Vista Social Club, pianist Ruben Gonzalez was 77 at the time of this CD, his debut as a leader. Although he did not even own his own piano at the time, he plays brilliantly, performing a variety of traditional melodies plus two originals, often quoting other songs and really stretching himself. His chord voicings are distinctive and very inviting, his control of the piano is quite impressive, and the music sings its heart out. The CD was recorded spontaneously over a two-day period with Gonzalez mostly being the lead voice, assisted by trumpeter Manuel Mirabal (who has some fine solos), bassist Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez, several percussionists, and occasionally three background singers. This set is impossible not to love. ~ Scott Yanow