Ruben Gonzalez, . Cuba
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Description Cultural themes: Ruben Gonzalez, . Cuba
Over his more than five decades in music, Rubén González has played with many of the great ones (including stints with Mongo Santamaría and Arsenio Rodríguez) and is himself a legend, universally regarded as one of the pioneers of Afro-Cuban piano style. In his youth, he attended medical school, thinking that he'd be a doctor by day and a musician at night, but he left school for his first love, the piano.
In the forties and fifties, he was one of a trio of virtuoso pianists (with Luis 'Lili' Martínez and Percuchín) who helped lay the foundation for the mambo by marrying African rhythms with the freedom of American jazz improvisation. In the 1960s, González joined Enrique Jorrín (the creator of the cha-cha-cha), performing with the legendary bandleader until Jorrín's death in the mid-80s, and 'retired' shortly thereafter.
He led a quiet life in Havana until Buena Vista producer Juan de Marcos González dragged him down to EGREM Studios for the now-legendary recording sessions.
Ruben died November 2003 at the age of 84 years.