Juan de Marcos González, bandleader
Gliceria Abreu, afro-cuban perc.
Julito Padrón, tp. & fl.
Yaure Muńiz, tp. & fl.
Yoanny Pino, tp. & fl.
Lázaro Oviedo, tp. & fl.
José Antonio “Tony” Moreaux, bongo & cowbell
Antonio "Pacha" Portuondo, timbales
Rolando "Nińo Mentira" Salgado, congas
Gabriel Hernández, pno.
Alberto Pantaleón, bs.
Evelio Galán, lead singer
Emilio Suarez, lead singer
José Gilito Pińera, lead singer
Laura Lydia González, clar.
Gliceria González, keys & backup vocals
Juan de Marcos González (Buena Vista Social Club) is one of the most important figures in Cuban music today. He has a mission to show the world the wealth, diversity and vitality of Cuban music. His work with the Afro-Cuban All Stars, the Buena Vista Social Club, Rubén González, Ibrahim Ferrer, Sierra Maestra and others has made an extraordinary contribution to raising the profile of Cuban music throughout the world. However, neither his name nor his crucial contribution is well known to the general public and he remains something of an unsung hero of Cuban music.
González was born in Havana in 1954 and grew up surrounded by music (his father was a singer and played with Arsenio Rodríguez amongst others). While at university he co-founded the group Sierra Maestra in 1978. Styled as a traditional Cuban septeto group, the dynamic young bands aim was to bring about an appreciation of Cuban son by the youth of the island. The band achieved great success, recording fourteen albums in Cuba, touring Africa and Europe and receiving various awards.
In 1994 recorded the album ˇDundunbanza! for World Circuit. For this recording, World Circuit's Nick Gold encouraged the group to expand their line-up to include piano, congas and a trumpet section in a tribute to the forties and fifties styles of Arsenio Rodríguez. Having found success and a common ground González and Gold looked to develop this understanding further with a big band recording in Havana, featuring the neglected stars of this golden age of Cuban music.
González had long harboured a dream to put together a band combining the old masters and the new generation of Cuban musicians. González and Gold planned to record two albums in Havana's EGREM studios in 1997: the debut from the All Stars and a collaboration between West African and Eastern Cuban musicians for which Gold had invited Ry Cooder as producer. Due to passport complications the African musicians were unable to travel to the recording. However, the two week recording trip yielded an extraordinary trio of albums: The debut albums from the Afro-Cuban All Stars A Toda Cuba le Gusta and Ruben Gonzalez Introducing and the Buena Vista Social Club.
The All Stars album was the first to be recorded and González's band provided both the springboard and many of the musicians for the Buena Vista album that followed. The day after the All Stars album was completed Ry Cooder arrived in Havana to be greeted by this ensemble for the start of what was to become the Buena Vista Social Club. González acted as consultant, co-ordinator and conductor during the sessions and when Gold suggested making an album with Rubén González in the two days remaining González was recruited as musical director for that project as well.
Following the album's release González led the Afro-Cuban All Stars and Rubén González on their debut European and U.S. tours and directed the only ever two Buena Vista Social Club concerts in Amsterdam and New Yorks Carnegie Hall.
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