Spin (12/00, pp.229-31) - 7 out of 10 - "...The old pro-turned-mad scientist, dropping devious experiments and whimsical asides that gently push the creaky old styles out of the museum door into the world of the living....Music this gleefully irreverent deserves to groove on its own weird terms..."
Q (1/01, p.91) - Included in Q's "50 Best Albums of 2000".
Q (11/00, p.106) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Another treasury of subtle, sensuous delights, seemingly frozenin time since the '50s....blessed with a wonderfully lyrical touch and anchored by the most instinctive of rhythm sections..."
CMJ (12/00, p.58) - "...Favoring percussion-driven jams....Ruben sounds like he could go on forever..."
Dirty Linen (4-5/01, p.76) - "...There's no doubting his talent..."
Personnel includes: Ruben Gonzalez (piano); Jessus "Aguaju" Ramos (vocals, trombone); Ibrahim Ferrer, Chikh Lo, Lazaro Villa (vocals); Elaides Ochoa (guitar); Papi Oviedo, Ry Cooder (tres); Lazaro Ordonez Enriquez (violin); Richard Euges, Joaquin Oliverias (flute); Javier Zalba (baritone saxophone); Manuel "Guajiro" Mirabal (trumpet); Joachim Cooder (drums); Roberto Garcia (bongos, guiro, cowbell); Angel Terry, Miquel "Anga" Diaz (congas); Amadito Valdes (timbales); Alejandro Pichardo Perez (guiro, clve); Alberto "Virgilio" Valdes (maracas).
Recorded at EGREM Studios, Havana, Cuba and Angel Studios, London, England between 1997 & 2000. Includes liner notes by John Fordham.
CHANCHULLO was nominated for the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album.
While perhaps a little bit more rambling and less focused than his American solo debut Introducing Ruben Gonzalez, this album nonetheless presents some lush piano arrangements supported by mellow Cuban percussion. Gonzalez is an extremely fluid player and his sometimes complex improvisations seem to constantly come off without a hitch, which is amazing considering that he is in his eighties. The songs range from sweet and light to more passionate and forceful, but throughout, Gonzalez's unique sense of joy shines through. This album also features a brief appearance from vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer, who gained fame with Gonzalez through his work with the Buena Vista Social Club. That project has spawned a number of albums which, surprisingly, have nearly all been quality productions. This recording is certainly not the exception to the rule. ~ Stacia Proefrock