Cuban bandleader, composer and arranger Juan de Marcos González is known as the “Quincy Jones of Cuba” and as the architect of the Afro-Cuban All Stars (the foundation for The Buena Vista Social Club), and the founder of another successful Cuban band, Sierra Maestra. His father was a singer for Arsenio Rodriguez’s Orchestra; his uncle was Ruben González, famed pianist for the Buena Vista Social Club.
Juan’s mission is the preservation of his rich musical heritage.
His Afro-Cuban All Stars is a unique orchestra devoted to promoting the complete story of Cuban music.
The 1996 Afro-Cuban All Stars recording “A Toda Cuba Le Gusta” featured nearly 60 performers. Then, with celebrated artists Compay Segundo, Eliades Ochoa, and American guitarist Ry Cooder, the unforgettable Buena Vista Social Club CD was recorded.
Fusing contemporary, traditional and a hint of the future styles of Cuban music, the band is multi-generational, sometimes featuring musicians from the ages of 19 to 90. The current line-up consists of Cuban expatriate musicians, all alumni of Cuba’s greatest bands. Continuing the family traditon, the band also includes Juan’s wife and general manager, Gliceria Abreu on percussion, and his daughters Laura Lydia Gonzalez (clarinet and saxophone) and Gliceria Gonzalez (keyboards).
The band’s outstanding 2011 release “Absolutely Live” is a DVD/CD combination, featuring performances in Japan and The Hague, Netherlands.
Hear more great Cuban music on Jazz Caliente, Thursday afternoons at 2pm on KPLU’s Mid Day Jazz.