Midnight Album Spotlight: Introducing… Reuben Gonzalez


Luxury. I’m all about luxury.

Greetings. I’m Michele Myers, I host a show every Friday night on KEXP. Every week at 9pm I spin danceable sets of rock, pop, hip hop, soul, electronica and more to start your weekend off with a bang. And then at 12 o’clock I do a Midnight Album Spotlight. This Friday it will be on the album Introducing… Rubén González.

Ruben is a Cuban piano player. He’s featured as a member of the band Buena Vista Social Club in the documentary of the same name. It’s one of my all-time favorite music documentaries. Ry Cooder and his son travel through Havana, Cuba looking for the forgotten greats of Cuban music. They find many artists who are earning their way on the docks or in factories. One guy in particular, Reuben Gonzalez, is a piano player. And in the movie Ruben says grumpily to Cooder that he NO LONGER PLAYS PIANO. But they track him down and find him playing (exquisitely, majestically, passionately) for a dance class of little girls. This album cover is from that scene. Reuben looks up at the Cooders as if to say “Okay, you busted me.”

This album Introducing… Rubén González was his debut release. I love that. So, at the age of 78 he became an international star. His work with the Buena Vista Social Club is stunning. But this solo release is by far one of the most thoughtful, beautifully played albums I have ever heard. It is deep, rich and as fiery in its own way as any Ramones record.

So, back to luxury. There are days when we all need to feel like royalty. This is the album that goes with a perfect meal, the perfect setting and the perfect company (mine and or a friend’s). This record makes any crib a castle yo. Ruben passed away in 2003, but I think he would be proud to elevate you…and he can.

Check out this video of him playing in the gym where he was “busted” by Ry Cooder. I think he makes the dancers feel the same way. Long live the passion of Ruben Gonzalez!

Join Michele Myers for Nite Life every Friday at 9pm. Meanwhile, you can check out her current KEXP Documentaries series “The Heart of Soul” (Everybody loves the Bill Withers episode!)

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