…now can there ever be too much of these in one’s life?
Just typing the words ‘maracas’ and ‘bongos’ makes me feel happy.
And when I listen to the music of Rubén González and his band, it’s not just a question of happiness. More like eating salted caramel chocolate. Or sitting in a warm cosy bed with the window open feeling the cool Spring breeze. Swishing your feet along a beautiful cold surf, while the sun beats down on you from above.
In other words, you get everything you might want at once. Gorgeous rhythms; fabulous beats; classic melodies; and the most beautiful, mesmerising piano playing.
Rubén González (1919-2003) was a Cuban piano player who worked solo and with various bands, most famously the Buena Vista Social Club. An album (produced by Ry Cooder) and documentary about the Club were released to worldwide acclaim in 1997 and 1999 respectively.
In 1996, using left-over studio time from this work, González recorded his solo album Introducing…Rubén González. This is the album which I have.
It is a classic example of the reason why I wanted to write this blog, and why I am so glad I am doing so. I don’t know how or when I acquired it. I can’t remember having ever listened to it before I started to prepare for this post. But how glad I am to have got stuck in with it.
Take a listen to these example tracks. First up is one you are bound to recognise: El Cumbanchero. I defy you not to play ‘air-maracas’ to this. And then to stop when you marvel at the amazing skill of Rubén González and the other musicians.
Next, have a glide around the floor, even if only with a broom handle, to Melodía Del Rio.
Now, what music might accompany the rolling of cigars on the thighs of dusky maidens? Something sexy and sultry, like Siboney?
And finally, to show off Mr G in all his glory, there is Como Siento Yo – a short piece where he just does his piano stuff. It really is a masterclass.
On the outer cover of this album, Ry Cooder is quoted as saying: “The greatest piano soloist I have ever heard in my entire life. A Cuban cross between Thelonious Monk and Felix the Cat”. Nuff said. 🙂