Ricky Gonzalez is a Grammy-winning producer-keyboardist, arranger and composer. A driving force behind many of the hits by Latin and Pop artists for over three decades, the young veteran moves fluidly between genres and continues to explore new ways to bring together the worlds of traditional and contemporary music.

Early life & Career


Born in the Dominican Republic, he began playing drums as a young child and continued his musical pursuits upon immigrating to New York with his parents at age six. In his early teens, he was accepted into New York’s Borough-Wide School Music Program. While there, he assumed the role of orchestral percussionist in the Stage Band while alternating in the same program’s String Orchestra, as double-bassist or percussionist (depending on the needs of a particular piece). He eventually moved up to the more advanced City-Wide Music Program, where he held first-chair percussionist position. That experience culminated in a performance at the world-renowned Carnegie Hall, where he was the featured piano soloist in Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue, despite never having taken any formal piano lessons. Although primarily a self-taught musician, Gonzalez often cites singer and percussionist Jimmy Sabater (of Joe Cuba Sextet fame) as a key figure in his musical development in Latin music. Through Sabater’s guidance, he discovered the musicians, bands and arrangers who would eventually shape his own musical identity. Other mentors along the way include bandleader and producer Louie Ramirez, pianist Charlie Palmieri, Celia Cruz, Johnny Pacheco and iconic percussionist Ray Barretto.



At seventeen, while pursuing his music studies in college, Gonzalez got his first high-profile break as a member of the Ray Barretto band, at the time reputed to contain one of the most challenging musical repertoires on the Salsa scene. A well-respected artist, Barretto did equal time performing commercial dance music in the nightclub circuit and Latin jazz internationally throughout all of the major jazz festivals of the world. Barretto took pride in allowing his young musicians creative freedom to develop their abilities as players, improvisers and arrangers. It was through these opportunities that Gonzalez was able to showcase his playing and arranging on a much larger scale. Upon joining the band, he was assigned to write half of all the musical arrangements on Barretto’s  Todo Se Va’ Poder album, the first of many he would record with Barretto. His association with Barretto led to collaborations with Celia Cruz (garnering a Grammy win for the Ray Barretto/Celia Cruz album, Ritmo En El Corazon in 1988), the Fania All-Stars, French superstar Bernard Lavilliers and many others. Through Barretto’s jazz performances with the band, Gonzalez gained maximium exposure in that genre, playing behind such legends as Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, James Moody, Paquito D’Rivera and many more. Gonzalez remained in the band until 1991, when he left to pursue opportunities as a solo artist and record producer. The two remained friends and Gonzalez would occasionally join Barretto for special presentations and concerts up until his death in 2006.


In 1989, Gonzalez headlined Latin Pianos in Concert along with Eddie Palmieri, Michel Camilo and other noted pianists. The event took place in the concert hall at New York’s Lehman College and was the first of many presentations Gonzalez would go on to make as a featured artist.


1990s to present


Upon leaving Barretto’s band, Gonzalez became a sought-after session musician, arranger and record producer – leaving very little time for his solo projects but yielding successful productions and garnering awards and recognition for many of the Latin industry’s top artists. Throughout this period to the present, he has toured extensively with Mongo Santamaria, Tito Nieves, Jose Alberto “El Canario” and Willie Colón. He currently tours with Marc Anthony covering keyboard and vocal duties, a position he’s held since 1996. From 2006-2011, he also did several international tours and television appearances with Jennifer Lopez.


His arranging credits list an impressive roster of artists of the Latin-music genre and his recordings as a session musician are substantial (see Discography). He has also written musical arrangements across genre lines for artists such as George Benson and, most recently, Diana Ross on her More Than Yesterday international tour. His brilliant piano and keyboard work can be heard on many film soundtracks and underscores, most notably The Mambo Kings (1992) and My Blue Heaven (1990).


2004 saw the release of Gonzalez’ first album as an solo artist, Oasis, an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary Latin music featuring guests appearances by Grammy-winners Dave Valentin and Ray Barretto, Jimmy Sabater, Orestes Vilato and an A-list team of musicians and singers.




Gonzalez studied for a period at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York, focusing on composition and orchestral percussion. He subsequently transferred to The City College of New York in order to expand his studies in jazz and ethnic music, as well as traditional classical forms. He enrolled in the formal music curriculum (focusing on classical theory, history and education) while also participating in the university’s Davis Center Performing Arts program (which focuses on jazz theory, history and performance techniques). While there, he studied with iconic jazz bassist Ron Carter and orchestration with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Del Tredici. Another of his professors, legendary jazz saxophonist Jimmy Heath, called upon Ricky’s services as arranger on the occasion of a Carnegie Hall concert led and conducted by Heath. The event was a George Benson tribute to guitarist Wes Montgomery. The accompanying big-band orchestra included pianist Hank Jones, saxophonist Pepper Addams and other luminaries of the jazz world.




Gonzalez has garnered recognition for music excellence from an early age. Through middle and high school, his achievements included the John Philip Sousa Band Award, the Frederic Chopin Piano Award and the Adlai E. Stevenson High School Jazz Award. During college, he participated in a competition for student composers. A submission of his original orchestral work (reviewed by blind jury), Scapes, subsequently won him the Sydney Zolot Award for Composition. He graduated from The City College of New York with Pro Musica honors.


His professional work as an arranger, musician and producer has earned a number of awards and nominations, including:


-1988 Grammy Nomination, Best Tropical Latin Performance: Ray Barretto – Aquí Se Puede

-1990 Grammy Nomination, Best Tropical Latin Performance: Ray Barretto – Irresistible

-1990 Grammy Award, Best Tropical Latin Performance: Ray Barretto & Celia Cruz – Ritmo En El Corazon

-1993 Grammy Nomination, Best Tropical Latin Album: Ray Barretto – Soy Dichoso

-1993 Grammy Nomination, Best Tropical Latin Album: Celia Cruz – Tributo A Ismael Rivera

-1999 Grammy Award, Best Tropical Latin Performance: Marc Anthony – Contra La Corriente

-2002 Latin Grammy Nomination, Best Traditional Tropical Album: Nelson Gonzalez – Pa’ Los Treseros

-2004 Latin Grammy Nomination, Best Contemporary Tropical Album: Mickey Taveras – Sigo Siendo Romántico

-2005 Latin Grammy Nomination, Best Contemporary Tropical Album: Michael Stuart – Sin Miedo

-2011 Latin Grammy Nomination, Best Salsa Album: Jose Alberto “El Canario” – Original

-2013 Latin Grammy Nomination, Best Salsa Album: Gilberto Santa Rosa (G. Santa Rosa, Louis Garcia, Ricky Gonzalez – Producers)

-2013 Latin Grammy Nomination, Song of the Year - “Si Yo Fuera Tu” (composer: Jorge Luis Piloto; Producer & Arranger: Ricky Gonzalez)

-2014 Latin Grammy Nomination, Best Latin Jazzl Album: Luisito Quintero – 3rd Element

-2016 Latin Grammy Nomination, Best Latin Jazzl Album: Raul Agraz – Between Brothers

- Endorses Yamaha musical instruments since 2008.




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With Celia Cruz

•  Tributo A Ismael Rivera (1992)

•  Esa Maldita Costilla – movie soundtrack (2008)


With Gilberto Santa Rosa

•  A Dos Tiempos De Un Tiempo (1992)

•  De Cara Al Viento (1994)

•  En Vivo Desde Carnegie Hall (1995)

•  Eséncia (1996)

•  De Corazón (1997)

•  Oro Salsero (2000)

•  Gilberto Santa Rosa (2012)


With Tito Nieves

•  I Like It Like That (1997)

•  Dale Cara A La Vida (1998)


With Jose Alberto “El Canario”

•  Llegó La Hora (1992)

•  On Time (1996)

•  Back To The Mambo: Tribute To Machito (1997)

•  Mis Mejores Canciones (1998)

•  Herido (1999)

•  Diferente (2001)

•  Then & Now (2004)

•  Original (2011)

•  Intimamente Salsero – Live (2012)

•  Romántico y Rumbero (2014)


Selected Discography


2014  Luisito Quintero, 3rd Element

2014  Jose Alberto “El Canario”, Romántico Y Rumbero

2014  Ruina Nueva (as yet untitled/ in production)

2012  Gilberto Santa Rosa, Gilberto Santa Rosa

2012  Jose Alberto “El Canario”, Intimamente Salsero

2011  Mambo Legends Orchestra, Watch Out (¡¡Ten Cuidao!)

2011  Santiago All-Stars, Joya Y Rareza

2011  Crystal Torres, Life Lessons Vol. 1

2010  Jose Alberto “El Canario”, Original

2010  Wason, Alma Mia

2009  Domingo Quiñones, Conquistador De Corazones

2009  Aventura, The Last

2009  Vanessa Williams, The Real Thing

2009  Latin Giants of Jazz, Ven Baila Conmigo

2009  Domingo Quiñones, Conquistador De Corazones

2008  3D - Ritmo De Vida, Que Siga La Rumba

2008  Various Artists, Bar Latina

2008  Willie Colón, El Malo, Vol. 2: Prisioneros Del Mambo

2008  New York Latin Jazz All-Stars, Feliz Navidad

2008  Orquesta Antonetti, Sigue El Paso

2008  Chino Perez, Ciudadano Del Mundo

2008  Hector Giovanni, Paso A Paso

2007  8 Y Más, Juega Billar

2007  Various Artists, Petrol Presents: Greatest Songs Ever - Caribbean

2007  Various Artists, Rough Guide To Salsa Dura NYC

2007  Antonetti Orquestra, Sigue El Paso

2007  Cesar Chino Perez, Ciudadano Del Mundo

2007  Various Artists, Salsa Bands Of New York

2007  Various Artists, Salsa Dura NYC

2007  Los Hermanos Colón, Abriendo Nuevos Caminos

2007  Salsa Swingoza, Aquí Se Puede

2007  Various Artists, Salsa En La Calle 2007

2006  Olga Tañon, Soy Como Tu

2006  Various Artists, Billboard Latin Music Awards 2006 Finalists

2006  Raulin Rosendo, Dame Otra Oportunidad

2006  Tránsito, La Nueva Combinacion

2006  Various Artists, Pura Salsa [Metro]

2006  Minino, Radical

2006  Papo Pepin, Y Ponte En Vela

2006  Various Artists, Very Best Of Salsa

2005  Johnny Pacheco, Entre Amigos

2005  Tito Nieves, 20th Century Masters – Millennium Collection: Best Of Tito Nieves

2005  Brenda K. Starr, Atrévete A Olvidarme

2005  Chino Nuñez & Friends, It’s SHO Time

2005  Alberto Shiroma, Camelia De La Noche

2004  Ricky Gonzalez, Oasis

2004  Jose Alberto “El Canario”, Then & Now

2004  Michael Stuart, Sin Miedo

2004  La 25, Con El Rock En Las Venas

2004  Jeff Niess, Evolution

2004  George Delgado, Mi Ritmo Llegó

2004  Johnny Ray, Crossing Over

2004  Various Artists, Solohits: Salsa and Dance Latin Hits Remix

2004  Various Artists, Urban Latino

2003  Roselyn Sanchez, Borinqueña

2003  Alberto Shiroma, Mona Lisa

2003  Miguel Martin, De Tiempo En Tiempo

2003  Obie Bermudez, Confesiones

2003  Various Artists, Salsa: The Essential Album

2003  Los Soneros Del Barrio, Siguiendo La Tradicion

2003  Miguel Martin, De Tiempo En Tiempo

2002  Jose Alberto “El Canario”, Back To The Mambo

2002  Son De Cali, Estilo Própio

2002  Jimmy Sabater & Son Boricua, Mo

2002  Dominic, Soy Como Soy

2002  Alberto Shiroma, Habanera

2002  Los Soneros Del Barrio, Remembranzas

2001  Jennifer Lopez, J. Lo

2001  Esa Maldita Costilla, Original Movie Soundtrack

2001  Nelson Gonzalez, Pa’ Los Treseros

2001  Safire, Bringing Back the Groove

2001  Jose Alberto “El Canario”, Diferente

2000  Gilberto Santa Rosa, Oro Salsero

2000  Domingo Quiñones, Poeta Y Guerrero

2000  Mickey Taveras, Mas Romántico

2000  Dominic, Mi Gran Sueño

2000  Willie Amadeo, A Mi Manera

1999  George Lamond, Entrega

1999  Jose Alberto “El Canario”, Herido

1999  Jimmy Bosch, Salsa Dura

1999  Frankie Negron, Lo Que Llevo Por Dentro

1999  Aris Martinez, Y Su Combinacion

1998  Tito Nieves, Dale Cara A La Vida

1998  Tony Vega, Hoy Quiero Cantarte

1998  Conjunto Clásico, Clásico De Nuevo

1998  Johnny Rivera, Un Estilo Propio

1998  Raulin Rosendo, Simplemente Contrólate

1998  Ray De La Paz, Preparate Bailador

1998  Michael Stuart, Retratos

1998  Raulin Rosendo, Llegó La Ley

1998  Isidro Infante, Licencia Para Engañar

1998  Various Artists - RMM, 10th Anniversary (Recorded Live)

1998  Dominic, Niegalo Todo

1998  William Cepeda, My Roots And Beyond

1997  Gilberto Santa Rosa, De Corazón

1997  Tito Nieves, I Like It Like That

1997  Ray Sepulveda, De Todo Un Poco

1997  Yorman, Camino Al Futuro

1996  Gilberto Santa Rosa, Eséncia

1996  Jose Alberto “El Canario”, On Time

1996  Johnny Rivera, Paisajes De La Vida

1996  Raulin Rosendo, Dominicano Para El Mundo

1996  Various Artists - RMM, Put Your Heart On: Salsa In English Vol. 2

1996  Isidro Infante, La Elite 2

1996  Danny Rojo, Regálame Tu Amor

1996  Various Artists - RMM, Recordando A Selena

1995  Gilberto Santa Rosa, En Vivo Desde Carnegie Hall

1995  Mongo Santamaria, Brazilian Sunset

1995  Isidro Infante, La Elite

1995  Raulin Rosendo, El Sonero Que El Pueblo Prefiere

1994  Gilberto Santa Rosa, De Cara Al Viento

1994  Ray Sepulveda, Llegaste Tú

1993  Louie Ramirez & Ray De La Paz, Otra Noche Caliente

1993  Pete “El Conde” Rodriguez, Generaciones

1993  Ramon Rodriguez, El Dulcero

1993  Chrissy I-Eece, Sangre Nueva

1993  Cheo Feliciano, Motivos

1993  Raulin Rosendo, Lo Máximo!

1992  Gilberto Santa Rosa, A Dos Tiempos De Un Tiempo

1992  The Mambo Kings, Original Movie Soundtrack

1992  Celia Cruz, Tributo A Ismael Rivera

1992  Jose Alberto “El Canario”, Llegó La Hora

1992  Ray Barretto, Soy Dichoso

1992  Madera Fina, Tallando La Salsa

1992  Raulin Rosendo, Que Se Cuiden Los Soneros

1992  Louie Ramirez, Sexy Salsa Vol. 1 & 2

1991  Alex Bueno, Alex Bueno

1991  Louie Ramirez, King of Latin Vibes

1991  Mecano, Aidalai

1991  Raulin Rosendo, Mama Vieja

1991  Daniel Ponce, Changó Te Llama

1991  Roberto Blades, Veo, Siento y Canto

1991  Costa Brava, De Santa Isabel

1991  Roy Tavaré Y El Clan De La Furia, Se Siente

1990  My Blue Heaven, Original Movie Soundtrack

1990  Luis “Perico” Ortiz, Vuelvo Otra Vez

1990  Fernando Villalona, Todo

1990  Orquesta Inmensidad, Dejala Que Suene

1989  Fania All-Stars, Guasasa

1989  Ray Barretto, Irresistible

1989  Louie Ramirez, El Genio

1988  Celia Cruz & Ray Barretto, Ritmo En El Corazon

1987  Ray Barretto, Aquí Se Puede

1986  Lavilliers, Voleur De Feu

1985  Miguel Y Oscar/ La Fantasia, Un Regalo De Salsa

1984  Ray Barretto, Todo Se Va’ Poder


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