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Ruben Gonzalez
Introducing...,  World Circuit/Nonesuch CD  79477-2, 1997

 Debut recording by 77-year-old Cuban master

The swan songs of great artists have a special appeal–Shakespeare’s  Tempest, Chaplin’s  Limelight, Armstrong’s 1961 sessions with Duke Ellington. While pianist Ruben Gonzalez isn’t of that stature, this record has that kind of feel. It’s equal parts love of his material, mastery of his instrument, and a quality of sweet serenity that seems to take a lifetime to acquire. Gonzalez has spent his life at the center of the Cuban music scene, participating in some of the defining moments of Cuban popular music. His sidemen here include old compatriots as well as younger players. The songs he knows to the marrow of his being. Ry Cooder played with Gonzalez on the  Buena Vista Social Club CD (see our review) and was so impressed he gave Gonzalez the chance to lead his own session. Gonzalez responded by distilling the passion and joy of a musical lifetime into this CD. If you’re new to Cuban music, this is a primer. If you’re into Cuban music, this is a jewel.– Pete Kelly

Copyright © 1999 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved.