Archive for September, 2012

Nippertown Jazz 2k: CD Picks of the Week By J Hunter

Nippertown Jazz 2k: CD Picks of the Week By J Hunter

XXI Century
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!

Albums with High Heat and Slow Curves – – BY MEL MINTER

Published September 6-2012

Gonzalo Rubalcaba XXI Century (5Passion Productions)

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.


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