Archive for December, 2010

“Inner Voyage” Liner Notes


Each production involves an effort, journey, new difficulties and contradictions, an aim. I don’t know why, but going into a studio  means not only handing over, but also finding. Perhaps it’s because while there I’m by myself, no matter how many good people surround me. I gather that each one of those present has the same feeling. Only one thing transforms this solitude: to have arrived at the studio with the group of memories accumulated during tours and encounters with widely dispersed audiences. Ours is the essence of trust, the practice of dialog: communication, answer and surrender being the absolute elements of the unique act we call “concert.” To arrive at the studio (laboratory or archive) with this consideration looming actually benefits us – by converting or detouring tension, nervousness, worries about the cold and calculated setting into a calm, amused air of enjoyment. Still this techno-acoustic space always tends to make us desperate, submerge us, and even drown us in a cycle of cold and hot, light and darkness. That’s to be expected of such a place, given the desires, capacities and energies of those who inhabit it. Not that creation depends upon a specific physical space. Creation neither begins nor ends there, but rather it expands and contracts all the while it lasts. Such creation embraces the foreseen (in this case, the composed) and the unforeseen (here, the improvised)  We’re in the presence of both professional virtuosity at its interpretive heights, and also immediate creativity wherein each individual imagination exercises a peculiar leadership that involves soloing and accompanying, declaring and being declared to, giving orientation and getting oriented, at once. This is the process through which democracy, prudence, gallantry,knowledge, love, faith and conviction are ever better defined. “Inner Voyage” is just that – a spiritual journey that hopes to capture the most intense or compelling truths of each chosen situation or special moment when happiness reveals itself to us, despite adversity. Moments during which we feel alone and important, having learned how to live with each other from our children, having admired the path of people who keep their feet on the ground, who contribute to life with actions based on dreams and the analysis of nature and its propositions. We await with urgency -and seek to hasten -solutions to the uncertainties of withdrawal and return, permanency or evolution of the cultural traditions from which we’ve sprung, and their relations with other systems of reproduction, or life.

– Gonzalo Rubalcaba

“Imagine” Liner Notes

Imagine a music that leaps borders and boundaries, is as smart as it is heartful, attracts listeners to its quiet, confident playfulness and challenges players to realize new realms of sonic substance and quality. Imagine this music of intriguing melodies, complex yet compelling rhythms and myriad harmonic dimensions springs from a composer-improviser who, well-versed in his profession’s real life demands, and, through family tradition, is to his creative art born.Imagine that for reasons having nothing to do with him-another accident of birth that musician is denied access to essential experiences that would likely inform his future maturity and accomplishments, as well as to the audience that might gain the most life-enhancement from his work: Then imagine the bars against him are lifted. Imagine: Gonzalo Rubalcaba In The USA celebrates that happy stage of an ongoing story. Our hero’s virtuosic and romantic modernism has not gone unheard in this country: listeners and fellow players returned from international jazz festivals with reports of his piano mastery, some of his earliest productions were issued by an independently distributed label, and Imagine is his seventh recording made available in the USA by Blue Note (through a licensing pact with its Japanese affiliate Toshiba/EMI Somethin’ Else Records) since 1990. Yet it wasn’t until May 14,1993 that Rubalcaba, two weeks shy of his 30th year, was permitted by the U.S. State Department (in response to a concerted letter-writing campaign) to perform publicly Stateside despite his Cuban citizenship and our threedecade- long embargo on all people and products Cuban. New York City’s prestigious series Jazz At Lincoln Center hosted Rubalcaba in an evening-length program like the one re-constructed on Imagine, featuring special guests Charlie Haden and Jack DeJohnette and his world-touring Cuban ensemble, at Alice Tully Hall. Alone at the piano, Gonzalo started with a deeply personal re-casting of “Imagine,” John Lennon’s reverie on idealism (he performed the version opening this album and his solo “Circuito II” before a specially-invited audience in Hollywood a year later; he’d given “Imagine” a funkier spin at Mt. Fuji with DeJohnette and John Patitucci, as heard on Images, in ’91). After a duet with singer Dianne Reeves, Gonzalo continued by lovingly turning to his mentor-bassist Haden’s composition “First Song.” Haden’s unerring sense for what’s musically fundamental and drummer DeJohnette’s touch-and-timbre sensitive percussion collaborate in the unfolding of a song that’s elementally beautiful, sad and wise. Out came trumpeter Reynaldo Melian and electric bassist Felipe Carbera-rnusical associates since Rubalcaba’s fusioneering Grupg Projecto of the mid ’80s-and drummer Julio Barreto, one Cuban traps drummer with a natural feel for swing and backbeat. Gonzalo’s writing for this grou~epresented by “Contagio”–draws on conser ·vatory-suitable attention to composition and detail·, the joys of pure bop Dizzy Gillespie (another of his mentors) visited on Afro-Caribbean culture, and the son montuno that’s at the root of Gonzalo’s national and personal heritage (his father Guilhermo being the pianist in Enrique Jorrin’s Orchestra that formulated the cha-cha, his grandfather Jacobo the composer of numerous enduringly influential danzons). As Rubalcaba’s quartet deftly adapts North American jazz techniques to extensions of the Cuban folkloric idiom, it addresses bop classics directly with equal insouciance-hence the brash version of Diz’s “Woody ‘N You.” Like “Contagio,” the elegantly reclaimed Cuban standard “Perfidia” and Gonzalo’s final brief “Mima.” “Woody ‘N You” was captured live during a benefit cOllcert for the NARAS Music Cares Foundation at UCLA in June ’94. The audience is audibly enthusiastic, Gonzalo and his compatriots are obviously pleased to play, their music is audibly alive, and evidence is that since he first visited the States, Rubalcaba still a Cuban citizen but now a resident of the Dominican Republic, has triumphed here again and again. Imagine that great nations bow with respect to fine art, that minds finds solutions to larger problems as people come together in the creation and enjoyment of intelligently rich music, that more than one talent of enormous originality and extraordinary potential resides in a place so forbidden or remote we’re in danger of never hearing of them, much I.ess hearing they themselves. Listen to Imagine: Gonzalo Rubalcaba In The USA and be satisfied hopes sometimes come true.

-Howard Mandel


Gonzalo and Al DiMeola in the Studio

Gonzalo Rubalcaba in Poland

Gonzalo Rubalcaba Live In Poland

Live 2010 Courtesy of Simon Sounds

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