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Archive for the ‘John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie’ Category
Rubalcaba, Gonzalo , Cuban jazz pianist; b. Havana, Cuba, May 27, 1963. His father, Guillermo, was an acclaimed Cuban pianist who played with the orch. of innovator Enrique Jorrin; his grandfather, Jacobo, penned some of the most beloved danzones of Cuban ballroom society. Despite the U.S. embargo, friends used to smuggle records in and he heard American radio. While he studied classical music at the Amadeo Roldan Cons. in Havana, at home he listened to Art Tatum, Count Basie, Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie. By the time he was a teenager, he and friends had formed a jazz-oriented band. He eventually performed in Europe and South America. In 1985, Dizzy Gillespie heard Rubalcaba in Havana and pronounced him the greatest jazz pianist he had encountered in more than a decade. Gillespie tried to bring him to N.Y., but the State Department denied his visa. Wynton Marsalis, Charlie Haden and others lobbied in his favor, but several years passed. He played the Montreal Jazz Festival in 1992. When Gillespie died in January 1993, he was invited by Lorraine, Gillespie’s widow, to attend the funeral as one of the pallbearers, and was allowed a visa to attend the funeral. Later that year, he played a concert at Lincoln Center to great critical acclaim. His move to the Dominican Republic in the mid-1990s made it possible for him to get paid for working in the U.S. (since he was a non-resident of Cuba). The fact that he has clung to his Cuban citizenship and refused to seek asylum in the U.S. has drawn vitriol from some reporters, audiences, anti-Castro lobbyists, and many Cuban émigrés. He moved his family to Fla. with the permission of the Cuban government. He made his Chicago-area debut 1997 at Ravinia.
Article from: Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Article date: October 22, 1999
Author: Raether, Keith
Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba has every reason to think of himself as a stranger in a strange land in Florida, where he and his family now make their home.
When he settled in Fort Lauderdale in 1996, Rubalcaba incurred the wrath of Cuban exiles for his failure to denounce Fidel Castro. When he first performed in Miami, hundreds of Cuban American demonstrators greeted him with anti-Castro mud-slinging.
To add aggravation to insult, the more Rubalcaba saw of mainstream America, the more he saw a society without fear or self-control. He feared for his wife and children. He longed for limits on “life in the candy store.”
“I struggle most with the human issues and family values in America,” Rubalcaba said through his manager and interpreter, Juan Quesada. “Life has always moved me wherever I’ve needed to go, and I feel comfortable (in the States) now. I still have in my heart where I come from, but I don’t feel like a stranger here at all.”
Dizzy Gillespie discovered the 36-year-old piano phenom on a trip to Havana in 1985, and their bond was immediate and indivisible. Rubalcaba was a pallbearer at Gillespie’s funeral, and the late trumpeter remains “the best gift that life has presented to me.”
Rubalcaba is content to let his music mend fences. His trio, which includes bassist Jeff Chambers and drummer Ignacio Berroa, will be in concert Sunday as part of the 11th annual Earshot Jazz Festival. Tickets and information: 206-547-9787.
Article from:The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA) Article date:October 25, 2001
Byline: ED CONDRAN THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT
ONE OF jazz great Dizzy Gillespie’s passions was Latin music. The legendary trumpeter particularly loved Afro-Cuban rhythms, which he incorporated into his bop sound during the late ’40s. Because of his fascination with the infectious style of music, Gillespie visited Cuba many times over the years.
During a 1985 stop, Gillespie, who loved to discover new talent, saw an intriguing young artist performing in Havana – jazz pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba. Rubalcaba, who was 22 at the time, was already an accomplished musician. Rubalcaba had honed his skills by studying classical piano from 1971 to 1983. By that point, he was touring Europe frequently.
Gillespie was impressed by Rubalcaba’s considerable chops. He asked the pianist if he would play with him the following evening.
“He gave me some music which had a lot of notes,” Rubalcaba said. “It was difficult music. He said, “Can you learn that and play for me the following evening?’ I told him I didn’t think so. He joked that “We’ll stay up all night practicing. ”
Rubalcaba performed with Gillespie the next night, and the pair hit it off. Gillespie invited Rubalcaba to perform in America on several occasions, but the trip was blocked each time. The first time Rubalcaba stepped on U.S. soil was in 1992, when a visa was granted so that he could attend Gillespie’s funeral.
After recording six well-received studio albums, Rubalcaba crafted 1993’s “Diz,” a tribute to Gillespie. The album also gave tips of the cap to bop giants Charlie Parker and Charles Mingus. Rubalcaba revamped a number of jazz standards by reharmonizing chord structures and adding his own dense style to the mix.
Rubalcaba earned notice in the States. By 1996, he had established residency in Florida.
“It was a process, but lawyers and Blue Note (his label) helped me get here,” Rubalcaba said during a telephone interview from his Coral Springs home. “I’m very pleased to be here. Growing up in Cuba, all you hear is negativity when it comes to America. But I love it here.”
Rubalcaba, 38, has settled in nicely in his new country and released a number of strong albums, such as 1999’s lauded “Inner Voyage.”
The prolific performer is touring behind his latest album, “Supernova.” The title of the disc belies its content. “Supernova” is a spare, introspective effort. In the past Rubalcaba, who will play Friday and Saturday at the American Theatre in Hampton, has incorporated many notes into his music.
That initial encounter with Gillespie apparently had a huge impact. “Supernova” is full of irresistible rhythms, loads of heart, and a subtlety that has been missing from much of the pianist’s music.
“This is a different record for me,” Rubalcaba said. “It’s my most ambitious record. I wanted to make an album that is balanced and to push myself, and I accomplished that.”
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