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.
Have you guys listened to the Estrellas the Areito -which I think I mentioned a bit back on this thread bust since this is an old thread you may have missed it- recordings, a compilation of which can be found as a double cd "Los Heroes," give it a listen. It's a huge "all star" collection of "son" jams, from late 79, 30 musicians, 3 generations, 5 day session. It brought authentic Cuban back to the world, after it had been cut off by the revolution.

Ruben Gonzalez and Jesus Rubalcaba on piano, Niño Rivera on the tres, Pio Leiva, Tata Guïnes, Teresa Garcia Caturla, Miguelito Cuní, Paquito D'Rivera, and man so many others.

For some very elegant music, try danzon (tango is the Argentine version of danzon, so think happy tango) like Antonio Maria Romeu.

And you if you've never listened to the great septetos, Septeto Nacional, Septeto Habanero, Estudiantina Invasora, give them a shot. These bands have been around for 70 to 80 years.

i would recomend two recordings made in the seventies in new york to promote latin percussion instruments by carlos"patato"valdez and a percussion ensemble where they play good rumba and every song was improvised on the spot.
You might also consider the non-Cuban, but Cuban-style LP "Afro-Cuban" by Kenny Dorham. It was recorded in 1955 and is available on Blue Note.
If you're feeling a little daring, pick up Marc Ribot (American electric guitar player). He did two albums with a Cuban band, Los Cubanos Postizos.

One is self titled and a tribute to the great late blind band leader and tres player, Arsenio Rodriguez; the second is Muy Divertido.

It might be too electric for some, but I found it made a wonderful change of pace and the tunes are all played with feeling and respect.