Rubén González

Ry Cooder famously likened Rubén González’s piano playing to “a cross between Thelonius Monk and Felix the Cat” and his renaissance in his 80s when he became an international star was one of the great elements in the Buena Vista Social Club™ story. Over a long career dating back to the 1940s, he played with many of the great Cuban bandleaders including Arsenio Rodríguez (in one of the maestro’s first great conjuntos) and Enrique Jorrín (creator of the cha-cha-cha), and Rubén was one of a trio of virtuoso pianists (with Luis ‘Lili’ Martínez and Peruchín) who helped lay the foundation of the modern Cuban piano style. He travelled extensively in Latin America in the 1940s and 1950s and was a major soloist in Havana’s all-star Estrellas de Areito project. By the time Buena Vista Social Club™ was recorded in 1996, he had long retired but he re-emerged not only to grace those sessions but also to record two wonderfully elegant solo albums “Introducing” and “Chanchullo”, and to tour the world’s most prestigious concert stages. He died in 2003, at the age of 84.