New Jersey Record
April 1st, 2001
by Jim Beckerman
Photo by Gingarita

For his solo skills, give that man a Cuban guitar
(Click here to link to the online article.)

Musician Nelson González of Teaneck impresses fans of latin
pop star Marc Anthony with solos on the Tres guitar.

     Young people and old music don't usually mix. But Latin musician Nelson González of Teaneck has introduced Marc Anthony's fans to a guitar sound that is more than a century old.   It's the sound of the Tres, a guitar with three sets of two strings.

     "This is the national instrument of Cuba, probably for 100 years," González says of the Tres, a  fixture of cuban folk music.

     With 42 albums behind him, González is no stranger to the Latin music scene. Through the years he's played on five Grammy-winning albums, and worked with such artists as Teaneck's Hilton Ruiz, Dave Valentin, Oscar Hernandez, Charlie Santiago, Tito Puente, and Gloria Estefan.

     But his career took a dramatic turn when Paul Simon, an old friend, invited him to be part of the orchestra for his Broadway show "Cape Man" just as his solo career was starting to take off.

    For the last four years, Gonzalez, 52, has toured all over North and South America with Anthony (a European tour begins in September), and his Tres solos are a highlight of the show. "Marc has the wisdom to use me in some of the ballads, he has me taking solos, he's open to new things," Gonzalez says. "I'm really happy that I have the opportunity to reach this new audience. I have watched audiences go by over the years, but this is a new thing."

     Touring with Anthony has been an eye-opening experience for González, a show business veteran. The intense love affair between Anthony and his fans knows no boundaries. "I remember, I think it was in L.A., there was this little kid who made a Puerto Rican flag out of beads, and somehow this kid managed to stick his head through the crowd with this little flag in his hands, and Marc just stopped," González recalls. "He started walking to where the people were at, and picked up the kid. Most of the time, he's able to somehow get away from the guards, and be with the people."

    González, in addition to his work with Anthony, has a solo album, "Son Mundano" (available on, he's promoting. He's also helping promote his two show business sons, balladeer Joseph and rapper Nelson Jr.

    Though González is of Puerto Rican descent, he learned about the Tres during his formative years in the 1960's, when he lived among New York's large Cuban community in Spanish Harlem. "I was one of the few Puerto Ricans in New York that really got interested in the roots of Afro-Cuban music," he says.

     Wednesday, González will be part of the band playing at the ceremonies for the third annual International Latin Music hall of Fame. The 7:30 p.m. ceremonies take place at the Hostos Center for Arts and Culture in the Bronx. (718)-518-4455.

     As for being inducted himself, that will have to wait, González says, with a laugh. "I've got a lot to do yet. I don't want to be talked about as a legend, even a living legend."

    For more about González, check out his Web site:
Staff writer Jim Beckerman's e-mail address is

Back to HOME