Rubén González Chanchullo (Nonesuch)

Chanchullo (Nonesuch)

Record Reviews

Rubén González

Chanchullo (Nonesuch)

Along with Pedro "Peruchin" Juztiz and Luis "Lili" Martinez, Rubén González is credited with being among the major architects of a percussive, highly influential Afro-Cuban piano style of the Forties that featured complex counter-rhythms, both parallel and contrary motion, flashy runs, and splashy chords. González was a child prodigy who graduated from Cuba's Cienfuegos music conservatory at 15, and some classical influence can be heard in his work, which is often rhapsodic. On Chanchullo, his second album for Buena Vista Social Club sponsor Nonesuch, González is heard with his touring group, an all-star unit that includes conguero Anga Diaz, bassist Cachaito Lopez, trumpeter Guajiro Mirabal, and timbalero Amadito Valdes. Vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer and popular Senegalese singer Cheikh Lo, flutist Richard Egues, and guitarists Eliades Ochoa and Ry Cooder also make appearances. Though the album is aimed at a general audience, varied selections including descargas (jams) and Afro-Cuban standards in various genres (son montuno, danzon, son guajira, cha-cha-cha) there isn't a lot of groundbreaking being done even though it's all quite pleasing. González may no longer be in his prime, but he remains an inventive, spirited, and technically solid performer, helped along with fine solos contributed by Mirabal and trombonist Aguaje Ramos, whose warm tone and melodic playing is superb. Aside from Lo and Cooder, this band is roughly similar to the one Arsenio Rodriguez had in the Forties with González on piano. Their music was revolutionary then, and now González has come full circle back to it.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Hector Ward & the Big Time
Smile Into Life (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, July 5, 2019

Texas Platters
Grupo Fantasma
American Music Vol. VII (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, April 19, 2019

More by Harvey Pekar
Hey, Emily
Hey, Emily

Aug. 8, 2008

Better Git It in Your Soul
Better Git It in Your Soul
Charles Mingus Among Us

June 16, 2006

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle