Archive for December, 2009


Ruben Gonzalez: A story of two careers

December 18, 2009

On December 8th 2003 Ruben Gonzalez the Cuban Pianist passed away in Havana, at the age of 84. Ruben’s accidental music career lasted over 5 decades and despite arthritis was given new life dispite his intended retirement.

Ruben began his music career in his home town of Las Villas after dropping out of medical school due to financial difficulties. He moved to Havana in 1940 where he played  in various bands and released his first recording in 1943. During the 50’s he toured with Orquesta América around Latin America where he became well known. In the 1960’s Ruben became the pianist for Orquesta de Enrique Jorrín with whom he would play for the next 25 years till Enrique Jorrin’s death and Rubens retirement in the late 1980’s.

In 1996 Ruben was contacted by American music producer Ry Cooder, who tried to persuade him to come out of retirement and record with him. Ruben had reportedly not owned a piano in 11 years and was suffering from arthritis was hard to persuade but eventually agreed to Cooder’s proposition. He went on the make seven solo albums before his death and played on the international hit album The Buena Vista Social Club, which popularized his music around the globe.

To hear some of Ruben Gonzalez’s music play these videos

December 15th is Notable as it is the Date When Two of the Greats of Jazz Died.

December 15, 2009

On December 15th 1943 Jazz Pianist Thomas ‘Fats’ Waller was on a cross country train journey across America when he contracted pneumonia. Just before arriving in Kansas, Missouri Fats passed away. News of his death spread quickly to the station where by chance Louis Armstrong was waiting in another train. T is reported that Armstrong was distraught after hearing the news and wept for several hours.

One year later, Glenn Miller boarded a flight at an RAF base in Clapham, England bound for Paris. He was on his way to entertain the troops who had just liberated Paris from occupation. It is believed that the plane went down somewhere over the English channel although no wreckage or bodies were ever found. This has led numerous conspiracy theories to surface about his death and its causes.

To find out more about these legends of jazz you can visit the following sites,

Thomas ‘Fats’ Waller

Glenn Miller

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