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Gonzalo Rubalcaba All About Jazz Italia Pubblicato: February 8, 2011

All About Jazz Italia

Sala Sinopoli – Auditorium – Roma – 27.01.2011Il piano solo di Gonzalo Rubalcaba è una sorta di danza del corteggiamento. Né una sfida con lo strumento, né tanto meno un confronto. È un rincorrersi di emozioni, di sottintesi, di aggiramenti volontari. È un volersi avvicinare al nocciolo della questione melodica senza fretta, assaporando ogni istante e ogni movimento dettato dalla fantasia.Forte di una tecnica superiore, di un tocco cristallino – che ascoltato dalle prime file mette in mostra vibrazioni di purezza -, il pianista cubano si è esibito in un’ora e mezza di musica di spessore, colta, ma semplice nella sua grana espressiva, curiosa nel suo incedere a tratti frammentario ma comprensibile, condivisibile.

Dapprima gioca con i silenzi. Esegue movimenti lenti, schematici. È come se cercasse l’ispirazione necessaria da situazioni temporali indefinibili. Poi inizia a disegnare un quadro sonoro colorato, multiforme, ritmicamente avvolgente. Il registro basso viene portanto sempre più in primo piano. Scuro, impenetrabile. La mano destra danza sulla tastiera con leggerezza, precisione, che ti fa venire in mente le ballerine di Degas. Ogni nota ha un suo peso specifico, un suo senso che magari affiora qualche frase più in là, sempre e comunque senza farsi travolgere dalla fretta. Il pubblico è attento, qualcuno si lascia trasportare ad occhi chiusi. Rubalcaba ipnotizza con ellissi di pura sapienza artistica. Di estasi improvvisativa. Di poesia delicata. E poi suda, scarta partiture, accompagna il tutto con timide smorfie. Non trascura un pizzico di serissima ironia.

Alla fine è un caldo abbraccio. Una conquista meritata. Applausi sentiti e un «Thank You» appena sussurrato chiudono un momento sospeso tra classicismo e fantasia, semplicità e arcigna voglia di scavare nelle emozioni.
Foto di repertorio di Roberto Cifarelli.


“Gonzalo è semplicemente uno dei più grandi musicisti mai nati”….Al Di Meola

Intervista ad Al DI MEOLA
Blue Note Milano – 29 maggio 2003
di
Vittorio Pio
Si ringraziano per la cortese collaborazione Giuseppe Marini e Pilar Maria Gioia della Warner Music Italy

Al Di Meola, è uno dei più rispettati chitarristi contemporanei, da sempre abituato a mescolare generi e stili, come quando da adolescente passava dai Beatles ad Elvis Presley, passando per il suono nero della gloriosa Motown. La prima svolta avvenne quando si trasferì al Greenwich Village di New York per prendere lezioni di chitarra da Larry Coryell, uno dei capostipiti riconosciuto della cosiddetta fusion. Dopo essere stato tra i migliori allievi della Berklee di Boston, Di Meola nel 1974 venne arruolato da Chick Corea per formare insieme a Stanley Clarke e Lenny White i “Return Of Forever” un’esprerienza breve per quanto di seminale importanza. Da lì in poi la sua carriera solistica spiccò il volo con una serie di fortunate registrazioni, parentesi dorate con artisti del calibro di Paco De Lucia eJohn McLaughlin e qualche inevitabile passo falso.

Oggi sembra un signore tranquillo e più che mai in pace con se stesso. Da qualche tempo ha formato un gruppo stabile e la sua recente settimana milanese al Blue Note ha fatto registrare quasi sempre il tutto esaurito. Alla vigilia del suo ultimo concerto lo abbiamo incontrato per qualche domanda nel tranquillo backstage dell’elegante locale posto in Via Borsieri, ci ha risposto con estrema cordialità:

V.P.: Partiamo ovviamente da Flesh on Flesh, un lavoro che sembra ancora più variegato dei precedenti con un suono molto immediato e diretto, ne è soddisfatto?
A.D.M.: Parecchio. Questo è il mio quarto disco per la Telarc, un etichetta formidabile che mi ha sempre lasciato ampia libertà di scelta. E’ nato a Miami, un posto dove mi piace sempre stare quando non sono in giro. L’ho registrato in presa diretta ai mitici Criteria Studios, un posto che soltanto per la sua storia passata incute suggestione. Ancora di più rispetto al passato il “mood” del disco è pieno di quei riferimenti latini che mi hanno sempre incuriosito. C’è un bell’ambiente in Florida, una sorta di crocevia obbligato per i ritmi e le suggestioni che provengono un po’ da tutto il centro America, non solo quindi Cuba. Il materiale è stato comunque messo a fuoco anche in alcune serate dal vivo suonate in piccoli club dove avevamo la possibilità di testare quanto avevamo appena concordato in studio, quasi l’opposto di quanto avviene di solito.
V.P.: Tra gli ospiti spicca ovviamente il nome di Gonzalo Rubalcaba, dove vi siete incontrati e come mai il suo apporto è stato alle tastiere elettriche invece che al più tradizionale pianoforte?
A.D.M.: Sono stato così contento di avere questa chance di ospitarlo nel mio disco, perché Gonzalo è semplicemente uno dei più grandi musicisti mai nati: davvero difficile far coesistere tecnica, fantasia, passione e velocità di pensiero in una sola testa, ma lui possiede tutto questo ed ancora di più. Ci eravamo incrociati in qualche festival durante gli anni, poi il mio percussionista Gumbi Ortiz mi ha fatto ascoltare alcuni suoi lavori elettrici realizzati insieme al suo gruppo Projecto, materiale davvero incredibile,quindi finalmente l’occasione di suonare insieme in Europa dal vivo, con la promessa di ritrovarsi in studio. L’occasione si è presentata per “Flesh On Flesh” e ne sono ovviamente molto soddisfatto, ha scelto lui di suonare il piano Fender e l’ho lasciato fare. Può sembrare strano dal momento che io sono un musicista di maggiore esperienza e ho avuto altri incontri eccellenti in carriera, ma per me è stata davvero la realizzazione di un sogno.

V.P.: Ha trovato dei punti contatto con Stanley Jordan, il cui funambolico estro fu in qualche modo disciplinato proprio da lei nella produzione del suo debutto discografico per la Blue Note?
A.D.M.: No, siamo su due livelli differenti. Mi ero quasi dimenticato di quella esperienza che affrontai comunque con molto entusiasmo. Anche Stanley è un fuoriclasse, però le sue prospettive apparvero fin dall’inizio differenti. Il suo enorme talento è apparso avvitarsi su se stesso fino ad un progressivo allontanamento dalle scene. So che di recente è tornato in pista con una serie di concerti in solitario, sempre e comunque la sua dimensione migliore, sono sempre dalla sua parte.

V.P.: The Infinite Desire“, che era il suo debutto per la Telarc, ha venduto molto bene anche in Italia anche grazie al bel duetto con Pino Daniele, un brano molto passato anche nei grandi network radiofonici, come ha conosciuto la sua musica?
A.D.M.: Pino è un musicista di grande talento, capace sempre di andare al cuore della melodia. Sapevo di una sua precedente collaborazione con Wayne Shorter (il disco eraBella ‘mbriana n.d.r) e l’ho incontrato proprio tramite Rachel Z., una tastierista formidabile a lungo con Wayne che quest’anno ha suonato dal vivo anche con Peter Gabriel. All’epoca suonava con me in studio. Anche Rachel ha origini italiane e viene spesso qui, sapevo della loro collaborazione e tutto è avvenuto in maniera molto semplice e spontanea, come del resto dovrebbe sempre essere. So che quel pezzo è passato anche molto in radio portando così il disco a sfiorare le diecimila copie, un risultato soddisfacente per cui mi piacerebbe fare qualcos’altro con lui, speriamo bene.

V.P.: Qualche anno fa ha registrato un disco dedicato interamente alle musiche di Astor Piazzolla e spesso inizia i suoi concerti con qualcuno dei suoi brani, pensa che il suo valore sia stato riconosciuto pienamente?
A.D.M.: Nonostante quello che può sembrare la musica di Piazzolla è tremendamente sottostimata. Forse non qui in Europa e particolarmente in Italia, viste le comuni origini latine ma negli Stati Uniti lo è di certo. Io ho passato buona parte della mia adolescenza a Little Italy, dove lui ha invece trascorso gli ultimi anni della sua vita e così diventammo buoni amici. Lui stesso aveva mi aveva proposto di realizzare un disco insieme e sarebbe stato davvero l’ultimo impegno fissato, prima dell’aggravarsi delle sue condizioni di salute. Con molta umiltà cerco di preservarne l’eredità suonando la sua musica con molta energia e passione, l’accordion è stato anche il mio primo strumento anche se lo suonavo davvero male.

V.P.: Lei sembra così tranquillo e distaccato, quasi un buon padre di famiglia a cui è capitato “anche” di essere un musicista di successo. Spesso lo stile di vita in questo ambito sembra pericoloso per le numerose tentazioni che propone, distogliendo molti musicisti di talento da quello che dovrebbe essere il loro vero obiettivo. Come ha agito perché tutto questo funzionasse senza altre implicazioni per lei?
A.D.M.: Forse dall’esterno può sembrare ma non è proprio così. Quando suoni per più di 200 giorni all’anno in un posto diverso come si riesce a ipotizzare una vita normale? Gli affetti, la famiglia, quanto hai di più caro finisce inevitabilmente con soffrirne. Adesso siamo finalmente a Milano per cinque giorni di seguito, ma proveniamo da un tour abbastanza duro di altre cinque settimane in giro per l’Europa, poi tornerò a casa per dieci giorni, prima di ricominciare per un altro mese buono. Intendiamoci suonare ed essere accolti bene dovunque vai rimane sempre un privilegio assoluto, però bisogna avere davvero un carattere forte per continuare a farlo negli anni.

V.P.: Da qualche parte si mormora che il suo prossimo progetto potrebbe essere un disco molto più soffice, quasi pop…è vero?
A.D.M.: E’ una cosa alla quale sto lavorando da un po’ di tempo e potrebbe essere vero, non lo nascondo. Mi piacerebbe fare un disco di dirhythm and blues con delle cantanti, ma non ho ancora trovato esattamente ciò che ho in mente, la maggior parte dei nuovi personaggi in quell’area come Shakira e Ricky Martin non hanno ovviamente il mio gradimento, trovo molto più interessanti molti dei passati lavori diGloria Estefan, che però aveva in Kiki Santander un fantastico produttore.

V.P.: Nessuna possibilità invece per una ricomposizione dei Return Of Forever o del magnifico triumvirato con De Lucia e McLaughlin?
A.D.M.: Chick sembra ora in una fase così diversa della sua carriera da sembrare improponibile. Non è più tempo di sperimentazioni e anche l’ambiente in generale è assai diverso. Con Paco e John ci siamo ritrovati qualche anno fa per una piccola reunion che ha portato a un disco e successivo tour che abbiamo affrontato con il necessario feeling, poi ognuno è stato assorbito dalle sue cose e non se ne è più parlato, io ci spero sempre, chissà magari la prossima volta torniamo insieme qui al Blue Note…

THEJAZZBREAKFAST

Holland/Rubalcaba/Potter/Harland: The Monterey Quartet: Live At The 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival (MJF Records 0888072312449)
Remember that great tenor led quartet concert from 1964, immortalised on the album Forest Flower? The band was the Charles Lloyd Quartet and the festival was in Monterey. In 2007 the quartet is an all-star one with Dave Holland on bass, Gonzalo Rubalcaba on piano, Chris Potter on tenor and Eric Harland on drums. And while it might not achieve the rock-crowd-friendly icon status Forest Flower achieved, this disc is as jam-packed with great jazz.

Just listen to Potter’s solo at the close of Eric Harland’s tune Treachery, the opening number here. It’s the tenor man in fiery form indeed, and the band really cooking behind him. For these few minutes alone, and the resulting standing hairs on the back of the neck, this disc is worth the asking price.

But there is more, much more. All the tunes are originals and all are contributed by the band. Potter’s Minotaur begins with an exemplary solo from Harland, and settles into a strangely accented piece, a strong Holland riff and more exciting saxophone playing.

Rubalcaba, for all his fireworks playing, is also a master of the subtly harmonised ballad, and Otra Mirada is  just such a piece, the composer contributing a precisely articulated and searching solo; Holland’s Step To It shows that dancing groove he brings to so many of his compositions, and the bass and drums interaction is just fab.

Harland’s Maiden is plain gorgeous, while Rubalcaba’s 50 is perhaps the set’s hotspot.

It’s easy to make a connection between this band and another Miles Davis group veteran’s – the Wayne Shorter Quartet. Both contain a Latin pianist, and both include musical princes alongside the kings. If this band isn’t quite a match for the Shorter band, it might be down to the fact that it hasn’t yet built up that kind of time on the road. Let’s hope it does.

iTunes Review of “Fé”

Cuban-born, U.S.-based pianist and composer Gonzalo Rubalcaba draws from his classical conservatory  training and his experience playing with Afro-Cuban outfits, including the legendary Orquesta Alagon. The self released  finds Rubalcaba alone at the the keyboard. . Although he’s always been known for his formidable technique, in recent years he has trimmed some of the flash and become more focused. Here, he performs two versions of Miles Davis’ “Blue In Green” that find a nice balance between abstraction  and moody ballad interpretation; the end results are both heady and moving . “Improvisation 1” and “Improvisation 2”, two pieces based on “Coltrane Changes”- innovative harmonic progressions used by John Coltrane- both dazzle with their speed and precise articulation .   “Joan; the longest track, finds the pianist working in an expansive mode that moves through many sections, and that at times recalls Keith Jarrett. One striking cut, “Oro”, moves between salon-like melodicism and more dissonant passages. Here, Rubalcaba displays a virtuosity that’s as sharp as a razor.

Gonzalo Rubalcaba Quintet 42 Voll-Damm Festival Internacional de Jazz de Barcelona Teatre-Auditori de Sant Cugat 13 de Noviembre, 2010


Cita el sábado en Sant Cugat para escuchar a Gonzalo Rubalcaba, uno de los pianos de referencia de la rica escuela cubana. Porque Rubalcaba forma parte de esos músicos que habitan en el olimpo del establishment del jazz. Él es uno de los nombres de cabecera de la discográfica Blue Note (su presidente, Bruce Lundvall, avanzó su visita a Barcelona para poder asistir al concierto) y un pianista altamente valorado por todo el espectro jazzístico, sobre todo por la crítica más refinada (no miramos a nadie).

Aun así, poco riesgo para tanto nombre. Las elegantes composiciones de Rubalcaba y sus chicos, o quizá las interpretaciones que el quinteto lleva a cabo, parecen frías y difíciles de vivir desde la distancia de un gran auditorio. De todos modos, hay que constatar que un público más que atento asistió mesmerizado al despliegue técnico y de control de sonido del que hizo gala Rubalcaba, que rubricó el concierto con dos bises en solitario, Con Alma y El Manisero. Antes de ello, hora y media llena de composiciones propias (incluida alguna pieza firmada por el saxofonista Yosvany Terry) y ajenas de artistas de referencia como Horace Silver. A la salida, el debate estaba abierto: para más de uno (el propio Lundvall incluido), se trataba de una noche memorable; pero también hubo quien echó de menos una pizca más de sal y pasión escénica.

Esprits Nomades: Notes De Passage, Notes De Partage

Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Le piano chargé d’épices

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Il nous est venu un grand bateau chargé de mille épices de Cuba, il tangue, il danse et se pose sur le vent.
Toutes ses odeurs sont étalées sur les quais des touches noires et blanches. Ses lumières étaient attendues depuis longtemps, par ceux qui agitaient les mouchoirs blancs des rêves de musique au goût de rhum.
Et ce fut un des derniers grands cadeaux du doux fêlé, Dizzy Gillespie, de nous révéler Gonzalo Rubalcaba, son ami cubain. Pianiste et compositeur né à La Havane en 1963. il a su faire une belle mixture tout à la fois de sa formation classique, de son écoute passionnée des naufrageurs du jazz (Monk, Bill Evans. Coltrane),- ceux qui allument des pièges sur nos plages, sans oublier les concoctions délirantes des sorciers cubains musiciens ou chamans. Il a fait mijoter le tout, à laisser revenir au feu très doux de la lune et puis il a servi bien chaud ces piments de la nuit.
Longtemps exilé dans son île, il jouait en rond, et puis le lac de sa musique devint pleine mer. Et il devint une île au cœur du monde. Que ce soit avec ses musiciens cubains, ou avec ses pairs Charlie Haden et d’autres.

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On l’attendait dans le royaume parfois vermoulu du jazz, un peu comme on attend les barbares. Son jazz afro-cubain a surpris par sa fraîcheur, sa vitalité, son énergie lâchée comme des chevaux noirs. Sa virtuosité ébouriffante, sa gentillesse chaleureuse, son piano à vif, tout cela a parlé pour lui, plutôt timide. Il suffit que la joie danse sur son piano, s’il le regarde souvent droit dans les yeux ce n’est pas isolément mais immersion. En apnée dans ses rêves, il pétrit la mélodie de ses mains ; En répétition il croise toutes les idées de ses amis, montrant une phrase à la batterie et à l’écoute du ventre de la terre africaine qui passe juste à côté.

Rebondissement des peaux. Son, danzon, rumba, fanfare cubaine, salsa bien sûr, s’entrechoquent dans un éclatant orage tropical. Que d’oiseaux ivres de rhum et de danse dans les tempêtes musicales de Gonzalo Rubalcaba ! Sa musique au tabac rouge des mers des Caraïbes, donne la fièvre.
« Nous devons écrire un livre où chaque chapitre veut dire fraternité. loyauté et confrontation avec la tradition. Nouveaux sons, nouvelles couleurs, nouveaux espaces pour l’imagination Et alors nous comprenons que la mer, la musique, l’homme, un baiser, sont tous ensemble une seule chose : la grâce » ainsi parle Gonzalo.

Gonzalo Rubalcaba est un brasseur de couleurs, ciel bleu-profond dans la tête, notes de fruits rouges à pleins paniers. Large deviennent les bateaux du jazz. L’entendre donne le goût des palmes, des rires dans le soleil, une envie de danser avec son prochain.
Le jazz redevient si simple quand il suffit d’écouter ses pieds, de s’enivrer de cette musique sans ombre, comme une lame de fond.

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Discographie

Live in Havana (1989)

Giraldilla (1990)

Discovery: Live at Montreux (1990)

The Blessing (1991)

Images: Live at Mt. Fuji (1991)

Suite 4 y 20 (1992)

Rapsodia (1992)

Imagine (1993)

Diz (1993)

Concatenacion (1995)
The trio, 1997

Flying Colors (1998) ave Joe Lovano

Antiguo (1998)
Standards, 1998

Inner Voyage (2001)

Inicio (2001)

Nocturne (2001) avec Charlie Haden
Supernova, 2002

Paseo (2004) avec New Cuban Quartet
Land Of The Sun (2004) avec Charlie Haden

Solo (2006) (

Avatar (2008)

Fé (2010)

rubalcaba

Date de mise à jour : 08/03/2005

JAZZIZ CUBA ! January 1998

Rubalcaba is a Cuban citizen, travels on a Cuban passport, visits Cuba frequently. As such, his activities in the States have been proscribed by our legislated commercial blockade of the island, though he’s found some ways around those bounds. In fact outside of those who’ve defected, no other single Cuban musician has enjoyed Rubalcaba’s high profile and privileges here – at least not since lrakere’s triumphs during Jimmy Carter’s presidency Now, after five years of Cuban-government-approved residency in the Dominican Republic, Rubalcaba recently has been permitted to retain his Cuban citizenship while moving his family (including two children) to a home outside Miami. Miami! The pianist’s first professional engagements in that city; just two years ago, resulted in bomb threats. Miami is home to some exiles and extremists who resent anyone who does not denounce Cuba’s four-decade-old revolution, especially artists who might be construed to be celebrating it. But Rubalcaba is 34, and Castro’s Cuba is the only one he’s ever known. Chatting before an evening’s gig at NewYork’s Iridium with his U.S.based touring trio (bassist David Finck and drummer Ignacio Berroa), the trim, dark pianist reflects on his experience. “The level of social and political confrontation of Cuban musicians in Florida is more intense than anywhere else in the country However; my concern is not about acceptance by Cubans. I believe my reception should have more to do with my professional stance than my political stance,” That’s generally been the case: Rubalcaba’s musical reputation in the U.S. has been established primarily through albums issued and promoted by American Blue Note, Although to circumvent prohibitions against the transfer of hard currency to Cubans, the productions have originated with and been leased from Japanese firms. This situation has resulted in some career anomalies: Rubalcaba’s most recent recording, a complicated work titled Antigua, is currently out on japanese Toshiba/EMI. But in American record bins, his newest release is the more casual Flying Colors, a series of duets with all-American sax hero joe Lovano, produced by Lovano directly for Blue Note. “I feel each CD release is a reflection ofwhere Iam personally and professionally,” Rubalcaba explains, with the air of being slightly miffed. “Antigua features my Cuban quartet with many guests from Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and it was recorded in Havana, Germany; Santo Domingo, and NewYork over two years. A huge project, an ample musical proposal, involving many different persons and a lot of my writing.” Antigua is an ambitious effort, arguably a concerto, that confounds expectations and categorizations. Flying Colors is, by contrast playfully spontaneous, sometimes moving and intimate, but not a self-conscious state-ment or result of arduous labors. On it, Lovano and Rubalcaba skip from standards by Irving Berlin, Monk, and Ornette to their own original tunes to free-jazz forays, enhancing each other’s expressions as they go. “Joe Lovano and I recorded last January, in one day-long session in New York” Rubalcaba says, He’s proud enough of their pairing. ‘The most important thing about Joe Lovano, amongst the whole wave of musicians who’ve cropped up in the last 15 years,” he says, “is that he’s knowledgeable about jazz from a historical point of view, but he’s found his own proper voice, an inner voice. As collaborators, Lovano and I share certain preoccupations with bnnging back aspects ofthe music of the past, and that’s why we’ve come together as we have. We share a sense of responsibility perhaps devotion, to maintaining and building upon certain styles, discovering new ways to expand upon their fundamentals:’ ”The thing about Gonzalo that’s so beautiful:’ Lovano points out, “is, sure, he’s a virtuoso, but he’s also a really sensitive player who doesn’t fall in anyone bag. I’ve never felt for a second that he’s forced me to play over a groove or a vamp, or laid out anything and said, There, just play over it.’ More than the tunes we play, it’s the way we’ve played together; our communication, our freedom within the beat, and the concept of trying to shape the music and create each tune that makes what we do happen.” Of course, they’re well-matched: Lovano is from a firmly rooted musical Cleveland family. He trained on-the-job, polished his skills at Berklee, and tested himself for two decades in crucibles of jazz, professionalism. A voracious instrumentalist, Lovano comes off as a hearty neighborhood guy, typically prevailing with bop-to-Tranebased bluesy and urbane songs. His great strengths are outgoing forthrightness, warmth, energy, and conviction. In comparison, Rubalcaba’s jazz background is less pronounced than his bold command of European classical traditions (particularly late Romanticism) and his seemingly intuitive grasp of specifically Cuban forms. Indeed, he exudes Afro-Cubanismo, and almost immediately upon taking a seat at the piano will summon up melodic conceits as wide and deep as the ocean, aswirl with harmonic complexities and raging crosscurrents of polyrhythmic swing. Although often propulsive and indelibly Latin, Rubalcaba’s sound is less confined than ennobled by its Cuban sources. His is an expansive music for listening, and listening is one of his best skills that’s demonstrated by the connections he forged with American-born jazzmen including Dizzy Gillespie and Ron Carter. “I’m beginning to work with a lot of different musicians,” he says,'”which has advantages and disadvantages. These increased contacts have helped me grow musically; but at the same time, they’ve introduced irregularities that don’t exist within a steady band or group or collective. I’d like to establish more stability soon.” He retains ties to his longtime Cuban band members, but trumpeter Reynaldo Melian still lives in Cuba, and drummer Julio Barreto has been touring with Roy Hargrove’s Crisol. During his youth, Rubalcaba knew his current drummer, Ignacio Berroa, as a Havana session star: “Ignacio is a great musician: he plays very well straightahead and, at the same time, knows the Cuban music perfectly.  Does it help if my accompanists know Cuban music? That depends on the capacity of each musician as a person. The problem is not that of nationality as much as talent and creativity. Ignacio is Cuban, yes, and we have very good communication onstage, But I also have good communication with David Finck, who is American, with John Pattitucci. Lewis Nash, Jack Dejohnette, Charlie Haden, Joe Lovano, and many others.” He laughs, as if astonished, at the current explosion of Cuban music. “There certainly are right now more productions by Cuban musicians and recognition of the talents of Cuban musicians in the US. than before, a more relaxed attrtude toward the consumption of Cuban music than ever in my lifetime. There seems to be less fear, and so less control, over the way Cuban music is disseminated in this country. That affects the consumption and appreciation of music from Cuba, surely But I don’t think I’ve played a big part in this. I am just a small grain in the appreciation of Cuban music, and each Cuban musician who’s come here has contributed to the greater appreciation of that music.” And what about the downsides of his relocation? “Every move you make that’s in contradiction to the way you grew up causes a certain feeling of displacement;’ Rubalcaba allows. “I believe the most difficult thing is to maintain the culture and the morals with which you’re raised and, at the same time, assimilate or understand the traditions of the country you’ve come to. Even if you’re not submersed in each and every aspect of this place you’ve come to live in, it’s a good idea to try to understand.”

Rubalcaba’s education in the ways of the United States has been swift. Discussing the music business, Gonzalo sounds like a native jazzman: “Living in the States has accelerated the immediate responsibility I have with advancing my music,” he sighs.”I have a much more direct relationship now with the promotion and marketing of my music. That’s the worst part of my work now. “The best part is to play – and there’s no comparison. But I believe I have to work within that system. And I also think, if I don’t import some of my own conditions, the system could envelop me. Ithink it’s very important that every musician have a program as to how to deal WITh their music and, most of all, to keep sight ofthe music’s creative concept.” Wasn’t that true, too, in Cuba? He shrugs. “There are certain things in my life that haven’t changed and that probably will never change, For me, thinking about how to compose – which ideas to expand, which to discard – those kinds of thoughts go on constantly; wherever I’m on tour; wherever I’m at home. That part of the creative process must always take place.” Maybe the obligations of creativity take precedence over an artist’s nationality. Rubalcaba seems relieved by the suggestion. “What makes me most happy” he says, “is what I’m working on professionally, musically Within this terrain, I encounter all my ideology, all my beliefs, all my perceptions. It’s this professional terrain that I’ve dedicated my life to, So, I have more and closer contact with America now? Am I the same player as before I moved here?  I hope that every day I’m a different player:”

Howard Mandel attended the first Jazz festival In Varadero, Cuba in 1981. He first heard Gonzalo Rubalcaba’s Grupo Projecto in Berlin in 1986.

Jazz Pianist Rubalcaba Leaves Crowd on it’s Feet….It’s not just his speed, it’s his touch … It’s not just his touch, it’s his ideas”

It’s not just his speed, it’s his touch It’s not just his touch, it’s his ideas”

By MARTY HUGHLEY The Oregonian staff

The last time that Joe Pass, the late, great jazz guitarist, played in Portland, several years ago, he made a joke between songs. He imagined; he said  a magnificent concert with some of the most accomplished musicians of our time: Andres Segovia, Itzhak Perlman, Vladimir Horowitz, etc. After the concert, all the musicians stay at the same hotel, then meet again in the morning. Over breakfast, they say to each other admiringly, “Man, you really played fast last night” Pass’ point was that speed itself  isn’t a musical value, merely a technical consideration.” Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba can play very fast and while his remarkable facility has been much noted, many critics have seemed suspicious of it . In his Saturday night solo performance at the Aladdin Theatre, Rubalcaba proved right off the bat that he’s no mere speed demon. Opening with a slow, ruminative ballad, he displayed a variety of other gifts – a strong yet refined touch that coaxed marvelous tone from the Steinway grand piano, a sensitivity to space that led him to let certain notes linger till the edge of their resonance before softly laying the next phrase over them, a romantic warmth working hand-in hand (so to speak) with an intellectual vigor. He picked up the pace in his second selection, improvising a minute or more of introduction to what turned out to be Thelonious Monk’s “Well You Needn’t”  He never did state the melody in full.  Rather, he took snippets of the song’s jauntily angular theme and extrapolated from them in varying directions substituting chords, re-contextuallizing a few notes at a time, probing the rhythmic possibilities implied in Monk’s catawampus phrasing. It was as if a jeweler were to take a single diamond necklace and remake the materials into a store full of rings, pendants, brooches and bracelets. ” Speed can be put in service of musicality, of course, as Rubalcaba showed in a dazzling version of George Gershwin’s “Fascinatin’ Rhythm.” At one point, Rubalcaba splashed imaginative bass chords with his left while his right hand executed a rapid. repeated figure for what seemed like an eternity; it almQst made the muscles Qn the top of your hand ache just from watching it. Rubalcaba played two sets, each slightly less than an hour  long. At intermission, the crowd of approximately 350 fans was abuzz, likening his skills to Canadian classical virtuouso Glenn Gould and avant-garde master Cecil Taylor. “It’s not just his speed, it’s his touch,” one person said. “It’s not just his touch, it’s his ideas,” countered another. And indeed, Rubalcaba’s ideas rhythmic, harmonic and especially melodic – held together even at his sometimes breakneck pace of exposition. His store of different approaches, fingerings, stylistic references, etc. – seems inexhaustible, yet he always made graceful, unhurried transitions between them, never seeming to be just grabbing at whatever came to mind. His playing also displayed considerable wit at time, something not always evident when he work in group settings. Several standing ovations ended the night. And Rubalcaba fans now hope the speediest thing, about him will be his return.

Supernova of Sound by Susan Pineda for Adelante

Fire and energy reunite in an explosion that expands light and silences sound …for an instant. melodic glimmers emanate from this nebula with just one star: Gonzalo Rubalcaba is the master of his own cosmos, although he belongs to a galaxy of great musical constellations. The musician whose father, Guillermo Rubalcaba, helped introduce the world to the cha-cha-cha, and whose grandfather, Jacobo Gonzalez Rubalcaba, composed the famous”El Cadete (The Cadet),” has not let the light of his rising comet go dim. His most recent production, Supernova; won the Latin Grammy for the best Latin jazz album of 2002. His collaboration with Charlie Haden in Nocturne, which also won a Grammy this year, is praiseworthy as well. With classic training, this  Cuban pianist and composer took an early turn toward jazz, and from that moment, his career has continued to ascend.

“Supernova” is another step forward ,” said Rubalcaba in a recent telephone interview with Adelante. Because without moving forward, he added, “it’s like standing still in time.  In the twenty years that Rubalcaba has created his sound, he has expanded the musical firmament. This piano virtuoso continues to sound the enduringly rich depths of the music of his fatherland. “Cuban music continues to need formal spaces, and not in a way that’s cliche,” he observed. Convinced that music is neither created nor invented, but restructured and evolved, Rubalcaba took the hits of yesteryear – the beloved “Alma Mia (My soul)” of Maria Grever, the unforgettable “El Manicero (The Peanut Vendor)” and the unequaled “EI Cadete,” – and sent them into a fresh orbit. His sparkle· poesn’t hide behind the incandescence of these classic stars, however, but proceeds from a unique source with its own light resulting·in a synergy between the genius of the past and the present. “The challenge of taking things on again that have already passed their peak, is to seek.a reason for keeping them alive,” he explained.  This reason, which Rubalcaba has managed to balance with a precise dexterity, dwells in the symbiosis between the knowledge of yesterday a the exploration of tomorrow. To revolve around the richness of Cuban and Latin American rhythms. and return to a classical axis, forms Rubalcaba’s universal style. And that’s because it is a minimalist musical expression given that the essence of minimalism is not the scarcity of details and decorations, but the abundance of space. Rubalcaba provides this space, enough to ponder and to set afloat in the periphery of our consciousness. The whisper and the explosion of the keys exquisitely move one toward the insomnia of the subconscious. Columbia will form part of this exploration when Rubalcaba lights up the spirits, stands time still and explodes in a carnival of melody on Dec. 5, in an event organized by the “We Always Swing” Jazz Series in an annual fundraising concert dedicated to the late Dr. Carlos Perez-Mesa, a tireless collaborator with the series. “All the places where one finds oneself contain a mystery, Rubalcaba observed, with respect to his imminent visit to Columbia. “One never knows what will happen.” Meanwhile, Rubalcaba’s phosphorescence will continue to live as long as this vital star continues to rise with each new day. “May the music awaken, just as I awaken every day,” he concluded

Rubalcaba finds the tears in the piano- Boston Globe

By Richard  Dyer

Globe Staff

No musical attraction of the weekend drew a more distinguished audience than the Cuban jazz pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba,

who appeared at the Regattabar with bassist Ron Carter. Among the interested listeners on various nights were jazz historian and musical polymath Gunther Schuller, pianists Andrew Rangell, Russell Sherman, and a host of Sherman’s students; Christopher Lydon, pianophile and host of WBHR’s “The Connection”; Pops conductor laureate John Williams; and BSO music director Seiji Ozawa. This listener will leave praise and analysis of Rubalcaba’s jazz’ invention to better-qualified commentators (including Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Haden) – he is fully aware that the admiration of people from the world of classical music is the kiss of death to people active in or interested in jazz. But it is nevertheless necessary to report that Rubalcaba stands in the company of the great pianists active today in any genre of music-making. Rubalcaba’s numerous recordings document dazzling speed, accuracy, alacrity of attack, and variety of touch – “it has to be the product,” Sherman observes, “of thousands upon thousands of hours practicing the exercises of Czemy and Hanon.” Saturday night at the Regattabar we heard a little of that virtuosity – some octaves, repeated notes, trills, and keyboard-spanning passagework that would convey as much in Liszt or  Chopin as they did in Rubalcaba’s jazz playing. His fleshy fingers have to work to produce a harsh, driving sound, but he can create one when he wants to; he also boasts a singing legato that he creates with his touch, not with the pedal- he employs finger substitution even more than an organist would.

Saturday’s quite in-drawing set with Carter also revealed  another quality, something unique in this listener’s experience of pianists. There is a quality in singing as rare as it is highly prized – “les larmes dans la voix,” the French call it, “tears in the voice.” Claudia Muzio had it, and the young Pavarotti, and, perhaps above all others, Callas, in the second act of “Traviata” 0r the final scene of “Norma.” It is not a quality that one ever expected to hear from a piano or a pianist, but one heard it,  felt it re-peatedly in Rubalcaba’s playing as it delivered its message from heart to heart.

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