González, Jose

Bio courtesy of the artist; translated by Evan Bailyn

The guitarist, cuatrist and composer José Gonzalez was born in 1953 in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. He started as a musician playing drums for rock music during his years at Cervantes (Bayamón) and Gabriela Mistral (Río Piedras) high schools. In 1970 he entered the University of Puerto Rico where he studied classical guitar under maestros Luis Manuel Alvarez, Ernesto Cordero and Juan Sorroche. At the same time he joined the nueva trove band called “Taone” where he shared experiences with pop music singers Roy Brown and Andres Jimenez. Later, in 1976, he formed his first band, “Rafaga”, dedicated to the music in the Nueva Trova style.

In 1978 he started to play the Puerto Rican cuatro and in 1980 formed the duet, “Cubano-Gonzalez” together with his close friend Miguel Cubano. They played the cuatro at the Centro de Bellas Artes as soloists with the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra. In addition, they performed in the World Guitar Festival in Martinique and recorded a unique album dedicated to classical music with the cuatro for the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture.

In 1983, together with vocalist Selma Berrios, he formed the band, “Aura”; pioneers of Spanish rock music in Puerto Rico. He later produced as arranger and cuatro performer, three albums of Christmas music for singer Danny Rivera: “Controversia”; “Ofrenda” y “Mi Cancion es Paz”. As guitarist, he performed with well known Puerto Rican artists such as Danny Rivera, Lucecita Benitez, Antonio Cabán Vale, “El Topo", Roy Brown, Sophy, Carmita Jimenez, José Nogueras and Giovanni Hidalgo. Also, as a guitarist, he worked with international artists such as Libertad Lamarque, Sandro, Braulio y Luisa Maria Guel and others.

In 1988 he moved to Amherst, Massachusetts where he began recording the Crillo Clasico series of albums, dedicated to his own compositions for the Puerto Rican cuatro: Criollo Clasico, Sueño En El Yunque, Fantasia Caribeña and Fiesta en San Juan, which included the song: Una Vez Yo Te Quise. His Criollo Clasico recordings and concerts were great hits and sparked the creation of another series of recordings with a new band. This new band was Banda Criolla, which realized a new style of Caribbean and Puerto Rican popular music, all compositions by Gonzalez. The music and recordings of Banda Criolla: Fiesta en San Juan, Celebracion and Bomba Le Lé spread internationally by the inclusion of three songs in the prestigeous Putomayor World music collections: Islands, World Instrumental Collection y Latin Playground. The Bose Corp. also selected the music of Gonzalez for their compilation: World Music/Voice of the World.

Gonzalez has performed in the United States with Hartford Symphony Orchestra, the Bronx Arts Ensemble, the New Jersey Chamber Music Society and the Holyoke Civic Symphony Orchestra.

As an educator he has taught master classes and performed concerts in schools and universities and has taught music in the public schools in Holyoke, Massachusetts.