- June 29th, 2015
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Archive for the ‘XXI Century’ Category
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.
Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba made a major impact with his Blue Note debut in 1990, showing off a thunderous attack in interpreting the jazz canon. Since then, he has evolved as an artist, incorporating many styles into his approach. With XXI Century, a two-disc set, Rubalcaba displays his versatility and imagination, joined by bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Marcus Gilmore, with a few guests on several tracks. Included are familiar pieces by well known pianists taken in new directions. Bill Evans performed his bittersweet ballad “Time Remembered” with a touch of melancholy yet Rubalcaba takes a different path, increasing its spaciousness by slowly working his way into it and having the rhythm section playing a bit off-center, considerably reducing its emotional impact. Rubalcaba’s furious take of Lennie Tristano’s “Lennie’s Pennies” (a reworking of “Pennies From Heaven”) disguises the song’s source until it is well underway, as the trio launches a tense postbop workout. “Moore”, credited to Paul Bley (actually Gary Peacock’s “Moor”), has an avant garde air, with darting piano and dissonant arco bass. The pianist’s originals are even more varied. His “Fifty” blends AfroCuban and funk with a heavy percussive touch, prominent electric bass and judicious use of the electric keyboards. Lionel Loueke adds his voice and guitar to Rubalcaba’s intense, percussive “Oshun”, though the primary focus remains on the core trio and guest percussionist Pedro “Pedrito” Martinez. Loueke contributed the ominous and introspective “Alafia”, the leader’s tense solo, sporadically adding synthesizer, leaving the most lasting impression. Enrique Ubieta’s “Son XXI” initially puts the focus on the long solos by Brewer and Martinez, followed by Rubalcaba’s wild solo blending Cuban jazz and postbop. XXI Century is easily Gonzalo Rubalcaba’s most diverse and demanding release.
Gonzalo Rubalcaba hará un paréntesis en su ajetreada agenda internacional de conciertos para presentarse mañana sábado en el sur de Florida. El célebre pianista cubano estará junto a los otros músicos que componen el Gonzalo Rubalcaba Trío: Marcus Gilmore y Matt Brewer. En el espectáculo –que se celebra en el Miniaci Performing Arts Center– ejecutará piezas de su más reciente disco, Century XXI, además de otras joyas de su repertorio, que se extiende por más de tres décadas.
Rubalcaba nació el 27 de mayo de 1963, en La Habana. Tuvo la mejor preparación académica y despuntó profesionalmente en los años 1980, apadrinado, entre otros, por el legendario Dizzy Gillespie. En 1991 emigró a República Dominicana; seis años después recaló en estas costas, más precisamente en la localidad de Coral Springs, donde vive junto a su esposa, María, y sus tres hijos, Joao, Joan y Yolanda. A fines del año pasado, el artista visitó Cuba para ofrecer dos conciertos y una clase magistral.
Todo esto lo repasa en la siguiente conversación con El Nuevo Herald.
¿Cómo te sientes en esta etapa de tu carrera?
Maduro, cómodo por la manera en que digo las cosas; me siento tranquilo, confiado; no solo con la ejecución de la música si no con mi faceta de compositor también.
¿Qué tan importante es esa faceta?
Muy importante porque de lo contrario te pasas toda la vida siguiendo o imitando a otras voces. Hay que admirar lo que hacen los demás, pero también hay que saber escuchar para poder tener un sello propio.
¿Cuáles son tus mayores influencias?
Mi primer maestro, Pedro Hernández; Dizzy Gillespie, que me colocó en el mapa mundial de la música; y [el bajista] Charlie Haden.
¿El trabajo como músico es un asunto individual o de equipo?
Siempre es de equipo. En el orden espiritual hay algo más que nos acompaña, nos ilumina, y en lo terrenal hay mucha gente que colabora en el proceso musical.
¿El prestigio y el éxito no te hacen perder contacto con lo terrenal?
Los artistas somos muy dados a ser el centro y perdemos el hábito de escuchar, pero a mí no me ocurre eso, gracias a mi familia, que me hace ver el otro lado de las cosas.
¿Musicalmente te quedan cosas por aprender?
Sí. Constantemente la vida te somete a situaciones alegres, tristes o desagradables y todo ese aprendizaje lo canalizo en la música.
¿Dónde se origina la fuerte tradición musical de Cuba?
Creo que simplemente le “tocó” a Cuba ese privilegio, aunque también ha ayudado el hecho de que siempre fue un lugar de paso para gente de distintas latitudes que dejó su esencia.
¿Perteneces al mundo del jazz?
Agradezco estar vinculado a la historia jazzística, pero me siento libre en lo estilístico; lo que más me interesa es la excelencia, la calidad.
¿Te gusta escuchar tus discos?
Apenas los termino sí, pero a los dos meses empiezo a encontrarles defectos.
¿Por qué importa grabar un disco?
Es una necesidad creativa; los grabo cuando aglutino una cantidad de piezas que pueda ordenar para decir un discurso.
¿Cuál es el discurso de ‘Century XXI’?
Estamos en un siglo que hereda del anterior una serie de nombres, de personajes, de mentes, de formas de pensamiento, en el orden musical, que nos sirven para conformar un estilo que debemos expandir.
¿Te molesta que tu trabajo no sea de consumo masivo?
Pienso que lo que hago es lo que hago; y que tratar de complacer y comprometerme en áreas que quizá no sé hacer bien sería un error, además de un fraude conmigo mismo y con el público.
¿Cómo fue la experiencia de volver a tocar en Cuba?
Emocionante, porque fui muy bien recibido, lo cual me hizo pensar que, pese a todo, la gente de allá ha buscado la forma de no perder el contacto con sus hijos, sus creadores, sus profesionales que se han marchado.
¿Qué le dirías a un sector del exilio que se puede molestar por tu viaje?
Que lo hago porque quizá pueda estimular a las nuevas generaciones, como a mí me pasó de joven, en el año 1977, cuando asistí en La Habana a un festival de cantantes norteamericanos y vi la libertad que proyectaban, lo cual me marcó para siempre. •
Rubalcaba en concierto, sábado, 8 p.m., Rose and Alfred Miniaci Performing Arts Center, 3100 Ray Ferraro Jr Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, (954) 462-0222 o www.SouthFloridaJazz.org
On the ambitious two-CD XXI Century, Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba continues to develop the ideas of modernity and fusion hinted at on previous recordings, with greater depth and breadth. Smartly accompanied by his trio of bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Marcus Gilmore, and augmented on certain tracks by guests, Rubalcaba moves with ease between styles and approaches, personal history and big concepts. On XXI Century, displays of technical brilliance take a backseat to detailed, well-constructed examinations of musical ideas.
He slows down and opens up with “Nueva Cubana,” his early, almost frantic exploration of Afro-Cuban jazz-rock fusion. On “Oshun,” named after the deity of love in the Yoruba religion, he smoothly blends religious chanting and drumming with electronics and postbop lines. And on “Son XXI,” he teasingly circles around a cha cha cha groove, coming closer and retreating while offering quick runs, jazz harmonies and electronics.
But Rubalcaba also approaches his interests from other angles. On Lionel Loueke’s “Alafia,” jazz and funk are infused with a mix of Cuban and African sensibilities. And he thoughtfully deconstructs and reconfigures Bill Evans (“Time Remembered”), Paul Bley (“Moore”) and an underestimated influence on Rubalcaba, Lennie Tristano (a superb version of “Lennie’s Pennies”). XXI Century suggests an artist who, while he can still dazzle if and when necessary, is also reaching for a wiser simplicity.
Thankfully, pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba returns to to the KISS Principle (“Keep It Simple, Stupid!”) by eschewing the large ensemble on the too-complex Avatarin favor of a raucous quartet, occasionally augmenting the proceedings with stellar guests like guitarist Lionel Loueke and drummer/fellow Havana native Ignacio Berroa. “Nueva Cubana” is a resounding announcement that Carnaval is now in session, and Pedrito Martinez’s blistering percussion is just a sample of what he’s going to give Nippertown at his upcoming performances at the Albany Riverfront and A Place for Jazz. (Martinez also adds galvanizing vocals to the brightly mystical “Oshun.”) Rubalcaba’s original “Fifty” is funky like a monkey; Loueke’s Afro-centric “Alafia” is sneaky cool; and Rubalcaba gets his bebop on with Lennie Tristano’s “Lennie’s Pennies.” Rubalcaba’s not done with complex music, though, even though Paul Bley’s rubato-heavy “Moore” and bassist Matt Brewer’s swirling “Anthem” comes in relatively bite-sized pieces we didn’t get on Avatar. Bill Evans’ “Time Remembered” also gets an extended reboot that plumbs the depths of Rubalcaba’s massive creativity. Less is definitely more, and since XXI Century is a 2-disc set, we get more of that less, and that’s a good thing!
A sunny, optimistic outlook shines throughout XXI Century, the latest from accomplished pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba. Featuring compositions that stretch across multiple cultures and 50 years of music history, the album ranges from the percussive incantations of Rubalcaba’s “Oshun” to a delicately impressionistic take on Bill Evans’ “Time Remembered” and an impressive pianism on Lennie Tristano’s “Lennies Pennies.” Bassist Matt Brewer contributes the beautiful shimmer of “Anthem,” and guest guitarist Lionel Loueke (who’s on everybody’s recordings these days) adds his funky “Alafia” to the mix. Rubalcaba’s dance-worthy “Nueva Cubana,” which features a memorable guest appearance from guitarist Gary Galimidi, mixes Cuban roots with modern jazz harmonies. But it’s Enrique Ubieta’s “Son XXI” that most effectively summons Rubalcaba’s Afro-Cuban heritage. Marcus Gilmore provides the percussive ground on which the album dances, with assistance from guests Ignacio Berroa and Pedro “Pedrito” Martinez on a couple of tracks. It’s a satisfying journey from beginning to end, and the two-disc package contains extras that only your computer’s optical drive will reveal.
(Gonzalo Rubalcaba – Yamaha CFX acoustic piano & keyboards; Matt Brewer – acoustic doublebass, Arco bass & electric bass; Marcus Gilmore – drums. Featuring: Ignacio Berroa – drums on “Moore”; Pedro “Pedrito” Martinez – Percussion on “Nueva Cubana”, “Fifty”, “Oshun:, “Son XXI”, “Alafia” & voice on “Oshun”; Lionel Leouke – guitar and voice on “Fifty” & “Alafia”; Gary Galimidi – electric guitar on “Nueva Cubana”)
Born in Havana, Cuba in 1963, Gonzalo Julio Gonzlez Fonseca known to the musical world by his popular name Gonzalo Rubalcaba comes with a family musical heritage having been influenced by his father, pianist Guillermo Rubalcaba. There were numerous music personalities that visited their home as he grew up in Cuba. His influences were also through recordings of Bud Powell, Thelonius Monk, Charlie Parker, Art Blakey, and Dizzy Gillespie. Later while still in Cuba he was playing in venues in Havana. Gonzalo relocated to America. He has received 14 Grammy nominations. He received 2 Grammy’s for Nocturne and Land of the Sun. He earned a degree in music composition from Havana Institute of Fine Arts. His heritage is in Afro Cuban music and was awarded the Vanguard Award by The ASCAP Foundation for “charting new directions in Jazz”.
Century XXI is an ambitious endeavor in pushing the edge of Latin and Afro-Cuban music. In this album Gonzalo works with a core trio of musicians (Gonzalo, Matt Brewer and Marcus Gilmore). He augments the trio on various tracks with other respected musicians. These discs feature three compositions by Gonzalo, and some reworking of compositions of Bill Evans and Lennie Tristano. Also featured is a composition of Matt Brewer, his bassist called “Anthem”. The guest guitarist Lionel Leouke is featured with his composition “Alafia”.
“Nueva Cubana” is the first song of the album (disc 1). The trio is augmented with electric guitar of Gary Galimidi. Gonzalo presents his great piano talents which he is noted for and was thoroughly enjoyable. Bill Evans tune, “Time Remembered” starts very quietly in a soliloquy with just piano it starts building with light brushes on cymbals and transitions to bass soloing taking the lead. About two thirds into the track the tune becomes more recognizable. Almost imperceptibly the tune picks up in rhythm with a quiet finish. With Evans it was a quiet ballad sound and Gonzalo has reworked it into a nice rhythmic Latin sound. “Fifty,” composed by Gonzalo, is another nice changeup, getting a bit funky and pushing the edge with Lionel Leouke augmenting the core trio on guitar and voice. It is a very catchy beat and enjoyable. “Anthem” by the bassist Matt Brewer is a slow experimental melody led by Gonzalo on piano. “Oshun” is a really cool example of Afro-Cuban Jazz with the chant of Pedrito Martinez the percussionist.
“Moore” is a tune of Paul Bley on Disc 2 of the album. It is cutting edge with a lot of improvisation between musicians then starts into a quick walking bass and piano in jazz time. Definitively cutting edge. “Son XXI” is a tune by Enrique Ubieta and literally show cases each instrument. Fine Afro- Cuban percussion, augmented by chorded piano and backing by the bass. “Alafia” is a composition by Lionel Leouke, who is the guitarist and voice as well. The tune starts with bass, percussion and piano engaging call and response. The bass and guitar bring in the main theme with Gonzalo augmenting on piano. Lionel comes in then picking and voicing with the notes. The tune is catchy and interesting, moving towards the cutting edge of the Afro Cuban sound. I would say “Nueva Cubana” and “Son XXI” were my favorites.
Century XXI is an example of an experienced and polished musician and composer in the genre of Afro-Cuban music who like John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and others who reach out to the edge of their music genre seeking that certain sound. The album is nicely packaged in a cardboard case with slip out folded liner notes containing pictures of the musicians. There is a rather esthetic and thoughtful description by Gary Galimidi, the guitarist and Executive Producer. And sound quality is excellent.
CD 1: 1. Nueva Cubana; 2. Time Remembered; 3. Fifty; 4. Anthem; 5. Oshun
CD 2: 1. Moore; 2. Son XXI; 3. Alafia; 4. Lennie’s Pennies; 5. Oshun (short version).
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