Excerpt- The Best Pianos (I’ve Heard) of 2012: A Round-Up of Notable Recordings – Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor -Jazz Police Friday, 01 March 2013
- March 8th, 2013
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Gonzalo Rubalcaba, XXI Century (5 Passion, 2012). For his second release on his own label, Cuban mega-star pianist Rubalcaba covers a wide range of sources across 2 disks – from his own “Nueva Cubana” and 3 other composi
tions to works by piano legends Bill Evans, Paul Bley and Lennie Tristano, one from fellow Cuban composer Enrique Ubieta, and one each from recording cohorts Matt Brewer and Lionel Loueke. The core trio here includes Brewer on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums, with guest turns from Loueke, electric guitarist Gary Galimidi, drummer Ignacio Berroa, and percussionist Pedro Martinez. Rubalcaba’s opening “Nueva Cubana” is enhanced by the contributions of Galimidi and Martinez, a jaggedy swaying celebration that melds an electronic funkish vibe to more familiar Cuban melody and rhythm; Brewer distinguishes himself early with an acrobatic solo that seems at home in the Caribbean as much as in the Big Apple. Martinez and Loueke join in on the pianist’s “Fifty,” taking a more direct feed from funk as well as African rhythm and somehow suggesting some early Herbie Hancock along the way. Bill Evans’s classic “Time Remembered” is delivered in delicate wrapping by the trio, as beautiful and subtle as the composer’s own renditions.
Berroa opens the second disk and Paul Bley’s “Moore” with a rumbling thunderstorm; Brewer adds some haunting bowed flutters and squeals, then dark walking lines, as Rubalcaba scatters and tinkles through melodic fragments. Rubalcaba’s “Oshun,” played in longer and shorter versions across the two disks, showcases the pianist’s melodic and rhythmic talents as well as the collaborative force of the core trio. In all, this is a welcome showcase of the diverse talents of Gonzalo Rubalcaba and the range of music that defines jazz in century XXI.