Recommended CD of Cuban music

Many of you probably saw the documentary on Cuban music (or heard the CD) done by Ry Cooder about 5 years ago titled "Buena Vista Social Club". It was a marvellous film about the oldest members of a generation of Cuban musicians who were about to pass from the scene, and the film attracted international attention that led to concerts in the U.S. and Europe. (For those who never saw the film, and who like Cuban / Latin music, I urge you to rent the DVD or videotape. It's a splendid and moving piece of film.)

One of the musicians featured in Cooder's documentary was a marvellous pianist named Ruben Gonzalez, who was 75 years old at the time the film was made. At the end of the two week period when the filming was done, Gonzalez also made a CD recording with many of the musicians involved in the film.

For various reasons, I never got around until a week ago to buying the Gonzalez CD, titled "Introducing Ruben Gonzalez" (World Circuit / Nonesuch 79477-2). Well, I found the CD on a sale table and bought it, and WOW! what a great recording!

Not only is the music terrific, but the sound is audiophile demo quality. There are real instruments in a real space that has excellent acoustics, and the recording is good enough that it puts you in the room with the performers (as opposed to putting the performers in your room). This is not one of those "down the throat" closely miked recordings, nor is it distant in any way.

When I played the CD for my wife last night (she rarely gets excited about the audio properties of recorded music), she said she felt like she was in a moderately large night club, sitting about halfway back in the audience. She specifically commented on the warm yet clear ambience, the spacing of the musicians on the stage (both across and front-to-bck), and noted that she could even tell that the piano that Gonzalez was playing needed to have the felt pads on the keys replaced (they are a little hard, and there are subtle "tinkly" overtones -- rather like the keys on the piano that Duke Ellington played on the recording he did with Ray Brown on the LP titled "This One's For Blanton").

Anyway, not to belabor the point: if you like this style of music (son, dancon, cha cha cha, bolero, and guaracha), you should add this CD to your library before it goes out of print. I know I will listen to it many times in the coming months and years.
Psychanimal, Peace!

Salsa appeals to my feet and my ears; the son hits me in the heart and spirit.

Now, you may want to define "jazz elements", the son has had what is usually refered to as Jazz since the 19th century. As in New Orleans, this is the sound of French instruments played by Creolles. They were brough over by French colonials fleeing the slave rebellion in Haiti. My great gradparents on my father's side are from this batch.
Latin Jazz is the fusion between Cuban brass and American brass (Jazz).

As an aside, listen for the Chinese coronet, introduced by Chinese workeres brought in when slavery was outlawed to work the cane fields, and others that migrated after building the RR's in the US.

Listen to Matamoros or Estudinatina Invasora, you will hear brass in the son, altough you are correct in that the 'classic' son does not use them. The classic son (which dates to the mid 18th century) is the tres and the clave, but it has many, many facets including brass and piano (predominantly montuno beats are piano).

Btw, Salsa is indeed a spinoff of the Son (mostly of the Son Montuno). Celia will tell you that herself (she even says she's still a sonera).
Do a bit of reseach and you will see. This is indeed a wonderful genre of music and I think you will be pleasently surprised in that you (and myself, for that matter) have only begun to scrach the surface.

here's a nice brief article (in Spanish):
and one in English:

I have enjoyed this discussion, and I am very interested in specific recordings you might suggest re:Celia Cruz. I have loved her stuff with Tito, but not her 'solo' albums or what she's done with Colon.

In turn, I would be more than happy to suggest some great son recordings.

Salsa is full of energy and life, but... el son es lo mas sublime para el alma divertir.

me voy... me voy...

I stumbled on Ruben Gonzalez's 'Chanchullo' CD this past weekend.

It was the first CD I played on my new EarmaxPro tube headphone amp and new Sennheiser HD-600s. What a lucky accident! The sound is absolutely fabulous, fabulous!

And I'm raving about Gonzalez to anyone who will listen. Its when you listen to the greats that you realize how much of modern popular music is trite, silly, junk. And badly recorded too.
And Cuban music embraces more than the afore-mentioned rhythmic genres. Take a listen to Gonzalo Rubalcaba's Antigua.

Incredible musicianship, defies strict genre pigeon-holing as Rubalcaba embraces polyrhythmic, odd-meter, progressive, bop, Cuban and tribal elements.

FWIW, also one of Jimmy Haslip's current favorites.

I am a little apprehensive about posting here, given the rather intense debate above and not really knowing a lot about Cuban music, but... My wife and I really enjoy the Charlie Haden album "Nocturne", which is really a collaboration between him and Gonzalo Rubacalba. It's essentially a collection of slow-paced ballads (mainly 'boleros' I think). Really gorgeous stuff.

We attended a concert by Rubacalba and Haden, with David Sanchez on sax, last summer during the Montreal Jazz Festival. What a display of feeling and musicianship. They were so cohesive and yet relaxed in their presentation. It must be quite a challenge to sustain a fairly low-key (in terms of pace) musical event for close to two hours. Incredible.

Other Cuban-flavoured jazz of note would be the last two or three CDs from Jane Bunnett. She's a Canadian soprano sax player who has visited Cuba frequently and recruited numerous Cuban jazz musicians, young and old, to record with her. Quite a revelation.