The musical traditions of Latin America have been brought to the United States by Amhearst, Massachusetts-based guitarist, composer and cuatro player Jose Gonzalez and his seven piece group, Banda Criolla. A graduate of the University of Puerto Rico who has performed and/or recorded with Libertad Lemarque, Sandro Braulio, Danny Rivera, Andres Jimenez, Roy Brown, Giovanni Hidalgo and Ruben Blades, Gonzalez leads the band through a lively mixture of rhythmic, dance-inspiring, tunes from Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. The result is a sound that "Dirty Linen" called "some of the most lyrically beautiful music".
Gonzalez, a teacher in the music magnet program at the Sullivan School in Holyoke, Massachusetts since 1988, formed Banda Criolla with musicians from the western Massachusetts area. In addition to vocalist Selma Berrios, the group features Rene Gonzalez (bass, drums), Holly Cruz (keyboards, vocals), Freddie Moreno (conga), Ross Novgard (saxophone) and Hiram Rivera (timbales, percussion).
In addition to working with Banda Criolla, Gonzalez plays with an acoustic group, Criolla Classica, that features instrumental music played on cuatro, guitar and Latin percussion.