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JM World Orchestra in un viaggio magico alla riscoperta dei tipici suoni jazz latini …con Gonzalo Rubalcaba!

UniCredit Pavilion ha il piacere di invitare i fan della Official Page di Gonzalo Rubalcaba al concerto in programma giovedì 6 luglio alle ore 21:30

Il grande pianista e percussionista cubano accompagna i giovani talenti della JM World Orchestra in un viaggio magico alla riscoperta dei tipici suoni jazz latini

+++   L’ingresso è GRATUITO fino a esaurimento posti!   +++



Engaging in a 90-minute conversation with Gonzalo Rubalcaba can be a little overwhelming, something like listening to one of this great pianist’s performances. He begins by mentioning his recent tour of Poland with a singer he knows there, Anna Maria Jopek. This casual reference leads to a discussion of the tangos they performed – yes, Polish tangos, which, he says, are fundamentally similar to Argentinian tangos as well as to the tangos he heard as a boy in Cuba. In fact, Rubalcaba, who is 53, felt so comfortable performing Polish tangos with Jopek – so culturally at home — that he began slipping a danzon composed by his grandfather, Jacobo Rubalcaba, into their shows. And now, as he mentions his grandfather’s legacy, memory guides the pianist toward his own Havana upbringing in the 1960s and ‘70s: his immersion in Cuban folkloric and popular music and the fact that his first instrument was the drum — as well as the fact that his conservatory teachers, most of them from the Soviet Union, regarded the rhythmic music of the streets with disdain. Even so, his compositional training remains profoundly important to him: He currently is “recomposing” a symphonic work that he wrote as a student at the National School of Arts in Havana, in 1983. And now – neatly bringing the conversation full circle — he mentions that his main composition teacher there, the Cuban composer Roberto Valera, was trained in Poland.

Actually, that was just the first 10 minutes of the conversation, which also touched on Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Haden, two of his early jazz mentors. But those few minutes are enough to give a sense of how Rubalcaba’s mind informs his musicianship: the intellect and focus, the marshaling of vast amounts of information, which he decodes to create musical stories told with precision, with an accumulating energy that arrives with a rhythmic jolt, and – increasingly as he gets older – with exquisite touch, with charm and reflection: “The music that we play today should reflect the journey of our lives,” he says.

All of those qualities should be in play next month (May 25-28) at SFJAZZ as Rubalcaba joins two other virtuosos – pianists Chucho Valdes and Michel Camilo – in a tribute to the pianist and composer Ernesto Lecuona (1895-1963), whose canon is synonymous with Cuba’s pianística tradition. Every Cuban pianist must come to terms with Lecuona, whose music bridged the popular and classical worlds; his renown as a composer in Latin America is often compared to that of George Gershwin in the United States. He penned popular hits: “Malagueña” is instantly recognizable to almost anyone. But he also composed symphonic works and piano suites, matching harmonic subtleties with infectious ostinato bass lines, never losing sight of what Rubalcaba calls the “essence of Cuban music, the black factor, the African roots. In Cuba we found a way to explore and develop all those roots together with the European classical music, and together with the music of other countries, like Mexico, and with America’s jazz culture. This may be the big benefit that Cuban music has – the openness to collaboration, accepting influences from the outside without being afraid of losing what we have. We believe it’s important to be in contact with what is out there.”

For Rubalcaba, Lecuona offers a template for going “out there” in so many ways.

“Lecuona was a complete musician,” he explains. “He used to play his own music, but he was also able to play Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Gershwin, Chopin, Schumann. He was able to compose for different types of ensembles – chamber music, symphonic music — and he wrote I don’t know how many songs, with lyrics, many of them very famous in his time. And then he also became a businessman, who created this amazing” – he pauses, searching for the right word – “this amazing corporation. He made a huge show with his orchestra and singers and dancers and they were able to tour around the world,” stopping at Carnegie Hall in 1953. “So he worked many directions in his life, and I think he’s a great example of how much you can do in life when you really are focused.”

Rubalcaba could be describing his own work ethic.

In September, he performed a Bartok concerto with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. In the following months, he performed with Chick Corea. He toured Europe with his New York-based quartet, paying tribute to Haden. He recorded with Jopek and is now about to record with the Spanish flamenco singer Esperanza Fernandez, with whom he has an ongoing collaboration. He also is going on the road with Valdes; on April 30, the duo will perform at the International Jazz Day celebrations in Havana, and they, too, plan to make an album. There is much more: Rubalcaba is increasingly drawn to video projects. He has been learning about electronics and ambient sounds from his 27-year-old son Joao, a music producer in Brooklyn.

And somehow Rubalcaba, who lives outside Fort Lauderdale, Florida, finds time to teach at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami – all of this adding up to what for most people would be an exhausting regimen. For many years, he practiced six or seven hours at a stretch, every day. No more: “Now I cannot do that. Maybe my neck hurts. Maybe my hips hurt,” he says, sounding amused. “So now I have to split the six or seven hours in different parts of the day. I spend 2.5 hours, and then I stop and I compose or I do this or that and later I come back to the piano and I do 2.5 more. The point is to learn how to get important results without ignoring the reality of your body and your mental state.”
Chucho Valdés, Gonzalo Rubalcaba & Michel Camilo pay tribute to Ernesto Lecuona, only at SFJAZZ May 25-28.

Certain words keep coming up in the conversation: discipline, responsibility, focus.

“My mother was the first person who really put me on this track,” he says. “She was a sweet person, but at the same time she was a very strict person.” He pauses, then adds, “It was impossible to negotiate with her.”

Yolanda Fonseca, his mother, allowed for normal activities: toys, TV, playing with friends. But in school, as in music, Gonzalo learned not only to put in the time, but to “get the best results. You need a plan, or you’re losing time.” This applied to his health, as well. He was asthmatic as a boy: “I had problems with the blood and with my breath, all kinds of problems and – look, I was always in the hospital, but I never lost a year to school. Again,” he reiterates, “my mother was clear that we had to find a way to get out of those health problems.” (Around age 12, he began running, avidly, along the ocean, which made all the difference). “We cannot ignore what you must continue doing in your life, she told me, and that included school and my preparation and training.”

His father, Guillermo Gonzalez Rubalcaba, was a pianist who played with Enrique Jorrin, the violinist credited with inventing the cha-cha-cha. Gonzalo began piano studies around age eight or nine, but he already was playing drums – and played them in the family band into his teens. His parents’ living room was a musicians’ hangout and rehearsal space where he met many of the period’s eminent figures: vocalist Omara Portuondo, pianist Frank Emilio Flynn and Los Van Van drummer Changuito. The latter blew Rubalcaba’s mind, playing scales on coconuts and inventing rhythmic structures that seemed to arise out of Changuito’s “different mental structure.”

Early on, Rubalcaba internalized the perspective of a drummer: “It’s part of my innards. That is the instrument that took me into the music,” he says.

He also was listening to his father’s Art Tatum and Charlie Parker records. After Cuban folkloric music and European classical studies, American jazz improvisation – Keith Jarrett later became a key influence — added a dimension to his playing that took him “into orbit.” By age 17, he was touring Europe with Orquesta Aragon, the venerable charanga outfit, and felt ready to ditch his schooling. It was his mother who insisted that he return to conservatory to study composition.

It made him a more complete musician.

That’s what Gillespie, Haden and other American jazz musicians recognized in him when they began to visit Cuba in the mid-1980s and discovered Rubalcaba – he was the complete package.

By the time he left Cuba in November 1991 – Fidel Castro’s government allowed him to move to the Dominican Republic, where he stayed five years before moving to Florida – Rubalcaba was a certified phenomenon. When he played “Giant Steps” at a festival in Japan in 1992 – you can watch it on YouTube — the musicians standing at the side of the stage, including Michael Brecker, appeared mystified by his prowess.

Back then, Rubalcaba played with an urgency and confidence that verged on cockiness: “When we are young, sometimes we believe that we know a lot,” he comments.

These days, he tends toward a less bravura posture: “It’s impossible for me to play in the same way that I played 20 or 30 years ago. Even if I wanted to, I cannot repeat that, because this is a different reality, a different moment. I’m the same person, the same essence. But I have more experiences, more stories behind me, and all these things are reflected in my music.”

He has three grown children and a wife, Maria, of 31 years. Time passes and he has come to think of himself as “a transmitter” of music, continuing the work of his grandfather and father, who “preserved the memories and the meaning” of the Cuban music of their eras. He will do the same for his own era, for “there’s a spiritual factor in the practice of the music that we cannot avoid. At the end, what is present there is our spirit. It’s who we are.”

  • Tribute to Ernesto Lecuona w/ Chucho Valdés, Gonzalo Rubalcaba & Michel Camilo coming to SFJAZZ May 25-28. Tap here for more info.














Photo by Joao Gonzalez

Nuovo progetto: “TRANCE”. Un duo straordinario, due maestri indiscussi del pianismo latin che hanno scritto alcune delle più belle pagine della storia del jazz contemporaneo insieme in Europa per presentare per la prima volta un progetto unico e imperdibile.

New Project: “TRANCE” An extraordinary duo, two undisputed masters of latin piano that have written some of the most beautiful pages in the history of contemporary jazz are together in Europe to present for the first time this unique and unmissable project.

Gonzalo Rubalcaba, jazz cubano para el Espacio Cultural Cajacanarias


Foto: Eva Hambach/AFP/Getty Images.

El Espacio Cultural Cajacanarias acogerá el concierto del cubano Gonzalo Rubalcaba, será el próximo 27 de octubre, a las 20.00 horas. La entrada cuesta 18 euros.  Con dieciséis nominaciones al Grammy y cuatro premios Grammy en su haber, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, sin duda, se ha establecido en el mundo del jazz moderno con mucha fuerza.

Este pianista excepcional – nacido en 1963 en La Habana postrevolucionaria – se ha convertido en todo un icono internacional. Muy temprano absorbió la cultura, así como las formas tradicionales y folklóricas cubanas de su propio ambiente. Entre su padre (pianista y compositor) y sus dos hermanos (pianista y bajista) creció en un entorno familiar musical, ligado a la música clásica mundial, el jazz americano y la versátil música popular cubana. A pesar de la diversidad de estos antecedentes, Gonzalo tuvo un entrenamiento formal totalmente clásico, graduándose del Instituto de Bellas Artes de La Habana en la Cátedra de Composición Musical.

Por otro lado desde su adolescencia trabajaba como batería y pianista en Salas de Conciertos, Clubs de Jazz y Salones /Clubs de Hoteles de la Ciudad Habanera. Después de su graduación dio su primer paso en la música popular girando como pianista acompañante por Cuba, Europa, África. Asia y no fue hasta 1984 que formo su propio grupo “Proyecto” para comenzar a extender por el mundo su propia visión musical. Estos años están documentados en una serie de grabaciones de los estudios “EGREM” de La Habana y “Messidor” de Frankfurt, Alemania. Tres magnificas grabaciones con su “Cuarteto Cubano” están bajo el sello “Messidor”, que incluyen “Mi gran Pasión”, Live in Habana” y “Giraldilla”, durante 1988 y 1993. Mr. Rubalcaba compuso música para los ballet “Pas de Deux”/ Lourdes Ramírez, “Panorama de la Música” / Victor Cuellar y música para cine como “ Cartas del Parque” / Thomas Gutiérrez Alea y “ Confesión a Laura”/ Jaime Osorio Gomez. Se encontró con Dizzy Gillespie y Charlie Haden (1985) en La Habana, e hizo que Bruce Lundvall, presidente de Blue Note-Capital Record, lo firmara para esta compañía en 1986, trasladándose con su familia en 1991 a la República Dominica y más tarde a Miami en 1996.

Su carrera discográfica Internacional comenzó con una serie de grabaciones para Toshiba/ EMI, Blue Note Records seguida por su propia compañía discográfica 5Passion, con las que ha optado a dieciséis nominaciones al Grammy y cuatro trofeos en los últimos quince años.

Entre las obras grabadas de Rubalcaba se incluyen “Discovery – Live at Montreaux”, “Images- Live at Mt.Fuji”, The Blessing”, “Suite 4y20″, “Rapsodia”, Diz”, “Imagine – Live in the USA”, Antiguo”, The Trio”, “Flying Color”, Inner Voyage”, Supernova”, “Paseo”, “Gonzalo Rubalcaba Solo”, dos colecciones de baladas y boleros grabadas con el reconocido bajista Charlie Haden,”Nocturne” y “Land of the Sun” por el cual les otorgaron dos Grammys Latinos, y también “Con el Permiso de Bola”, una hermosa selección de canciones que cantaba y escribía Bola de Nieve bajo la voz de Pancho Céspedes. Este trabajo cosechó reconocimientos y elogios por todo el mundo incluyendo una nominación al Grammy Latino.

La obra de Gonzalo y su vida activa como instrumentista se extiende por el mundo internacional en diversos formatos musicales : como solista, con diferentes formatos de Jazz, grupos de cámara y orquesta sinfónica. Su repertorio activo se ha expandido desde “straight-ahead”, bop y Afro-Cuban jazz hasta baladas, boleros incluso las obras clásicas de la música cubana.

Además de Cuatro Premios Grammys, ha sido galardonado con el Palmar D’Or of the Music Academy in Paris( 1991), mayor Instrumentista y tecladista del titular de la Ciudad de Lugano, Switzerland (1991), Best Performer Award (1991 and 1993), por los álbumes “Suite 4 y 20″ y “Rapsodia” de la Asociación de críticos de Arte de Japón. En reconocimiento a su extraordinaria contribución al Jazz, Los líderes del Circulo de la Organización de Jazz de San Francisco, proclamaron a Gonzalo Rubalcaba “2001 Leaders Circle Laureate”. La Fundación ASCAP, (2008) lo galardonó con el premio “Vanguard Award”, por su música innovadora y distintiva que está trazando nuevas direcciones en el jazz.

Hoy disfruta de su propio sello discográfico “5Passion”, fundado en 2010 en Miami, Florida, junto a Gary Galimidi, del cual ya cuenta con la nominación al premio Grammy, en la categoría de “Mejor Latin Jazz Album” (2015) por su disco “Suite Caminos”.



Chick Corea and Gonzalo Rubalcaba – Live – Friday Sept 11 – 7:30 PM






















For more information…

Piano legend Chick Corea’s second night is a rare meeting of true piano titans. For Corea, adding a second keyboard maestro to the mix has always resulted in improvisation of the highest order. Most famously, he has joined forces with fellow Miles Davis alum Herbie Hancock on a classic album and occasional tours. His partnership with Cuban piano giant Gonzalo Rubalcaba taps into the fiery Iberian region of Corea’s psyche. Rubalcaba has integrated huge swaths of the European classical and jazz traditions, while maintaining bone-deep ties to the rhythmic currents of Cuba. The pair joined forces back in the early 1990s for a thrilling concert in Japan that’s been widely seen on YouTube. A decade later, Corea invited Rubalcaba to New York City’s Blue Note as part of his epic, multi-artist 60th birthday celebration, a sensational encounter documented on the CD concert anthology Rendezvous in New York (which features their explosive medley of “Concierto de Aranjuez” and “Spain”), and a DVD, Duet, that captures their entire set. Playful, rollicking, and rhythmically dazzling, Corea and Rubalcaba are like two sublimely matched dancers, testing and responding to each other’s moves with lightning reflexes and ethereal grace.

Festival Piano, Piano: Gonzalo Rubalcaba (Cuba) – Centro Cultural Kirchner

En la Ballena Azul, a las 21:00

Piano, piano es, creo, un festival inédito. Reunir a tantos pianistas contemporáneos con distintos abordajes, caminos, propuestas, me parece un poco algo más allá de la realidad que hemos visto.  Es como un sueño para los que programan, tocan, y creo para el público que va a disfrutar de un panorama de lo que se produce hoy en nuestro continente y también en el mundo”.  Benjamim Taubkin.


El cubano Gonzalo Rubalcaba es uno de los músicos de jazz nacidos en el Caribe que, más allá de las referencias a sus raíces musicales, logró trascender las fronteras de lo que en los Estados Unidos se conoce como jazz latino. Con sus propios grupos, y también como invitado de creadores como el contrabajista Charlie Haden, ha construido un estilo tan intenso como identificable. Actualmente graba y produce discos para su propia compañía, 5Passion LLC, fundada en 2010.

El texto de las biografía fue escrito por Diego Fischerman.

Duración: 1 hora, 20 minutos.


Volcan con Gonzalo Rubalcaba – DI FABRIZIO GUGLIELMINI


Volcan, è un super gruppo latin jazz  formato da Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Giovanni Hildago, Horacio ‘El Negro’ Hernandez e Jose Armando Gola:  musicisti legati a Rubalcaba, leader del quartetto e pianista, nato nel 1963. Nel suo stile gli stilemi post bop si fondono con le sonorità sudamericane e con le numerose tradizioni musicali dell’Isla Grande dal Bolero al Son riletti in chiave jazzistica. Dopo molte collaborazioni prestigiose, fin dagli anni 90 Rubalcaba è leader di propri progetti con tour in tutto il mondo.

The season’s top picks in Jazz – The Miami Herald -Global Cuba Fest with Volcan, March 7, Miami-Dade County Auditorium



Fundarte and Miami Light Project’s annual celebration of Cuban music from the island and the diaspora features Volcan, the spectacular quartet of pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, drummer Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo and bassist Armando Gola, which is the closest we have to a modern Latin jazz super-group in captivity. Also not to be missed is one of the most original voices in global jazz, Cuban-born, Spain-based Omar Sosa, an excellent pianist and composer with a distinctive pan-Latin, pan-African vision and approach.

Read more here:


„Musikfest goes Overseas“ – eine lange Jazznacht Bremen, 16. Mai 2014 / cp


„Musikfest goes Overseas“ – eine lange Jazznacht 

Das Metropole Orkest trifft auf Gregory Porter, Laura Mvula und Gonzalo Rubalcaba 

Sein Debüt beim letztjährigen Musikfest mit dem amerikanischen Jazz-Vokalisten Kurt Elling geriet zum umjubelten Triumph! Das niederländische Metropole Orkest, vom renommierten Guardian als „das weltweit größte Pop- und Jazzorchester“ gefeiert, unterstrich seinen Aus-nahmenrang als einzige Bigband mit vollständiger Streicherformation in der europäischen Musikszene und stellte seine ganze Bandbreite souverän zur Schau – von kraftvoll klassisch bis jazzig verspielt. Abseits ausgetretener Pfade präsentierte sich das Metropole Orkest und spielte höchst anspruchsvolle Stücke aus dem umfangreichen Repertoire von Kurt Elling, die aufwändig für die große Besetzung des Orchesters arrangiert worden waren. Anlässlich des 25-jährigen Festivaljubiläums wird dieses Jahr in einer langen Jazznacht am Samstag, 13. September, ab 19 Uhr im BLG-Forum der Überseestadt noch einer „draufgelegt“: Das Met-ropole Orkest und sein Leiter Jules Buckley spielen mit dem amerikanischen Soul-Jazz-Sänger Gregory Porter, dem kubanischen Jazz-Pianisten Gonzalo Rubalcaba und der jun-gen britischen Soulpop-Sängerin Laura Mvula auf.

Mit dieser spannenden Kombination trifft das Metropole Orkest gleich auf drei Spitzenkräfte ihrer Genres, die mit dem vollen Sound des Metropole Orkest im Rücken spezielle Arran-gements ihres Repertoires zum Besten geben werden. Der US-amerikanische Bariton Gre-gory Porter ist geradezu der „Jazz-Sänger der Stunde“ und wird von Publikum und Kritik für seine Fusion aus Jazz und Soul als Erneuerer des amerikanischen Soul-Jazz hymnisch gefeiert. Mit seinem aktuellen dritten Album „Liquid Spirit“ hat sich Porter endgültig als eine der gegenwärtig schönsten Stimmen in der internationalen Jazzszene etabliert. Der kubani-sche Pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba wiederum verwebt in seinem rhythmusgeladenen Spiel innovativ und höchst komplex Latin, Klassik und Jazz. Auch die aus Birmingham stammende junge Sängerin Laura Mvula hat karibische Wurzeln und vermischt mit ihrer aufregenden Stimme Pop, Jazz und Soul. Auf ihrem aktuellen Album „Sing to the moon“ hat sie ihre Vor-liebe für opulent instrumentierte Songs bereits eindrucksvoll dargelegt. Das verspricht in der langen Jazznacht in der Überseestadt drei aufregende, spannungsgeladene Sets, in denen sich die Akteure mit dem groß besetzten Metropole Orkest gekonnt die Bälle zuspielen und Juwelen aus ihren Repertoires in neuen, opulenten Klanggewändern zum Besten geben.


Veranstaltung: 25. Musikfest Bremen 2014: „Musikfest goes Overseas“ 

Künstler: Gregory Porter und Laura Mvula (Gesang), Gonzalo Rubalcaba (Klavier), 

Metropole Orkest / Jules Buckley, musikalische Leitung 

Ort: BLG-Forum Überseestadt Bremen 

Termine / Uhrzeit: Samstag, 13. September, 19 Uhr 

Eintrittspreise: von EUR 20,- bis EUR 55,- (Ermäßigung 20%), inklusive VVK-Gebühr 

Info / Karten: Ticket-Service in der Glocke, Tel. 04 21 / 33 66 99 


Weitere Informationen für die Redaktionen: 

MUSIKFEST BREMEN GMBH, Carsten Preisler und Inge Claassen

Tel. 04 21 / 33 66-660/-661, Fax 04 21 / 33 66-880, e-Mail: (Bereich „Presse & Medien“: Fotos zum downloaden)

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