Discovery: Live at Montreux

Unless you sit around listening to shitty street punk all day, you’ve probably heard a lot of very talented musicians. But how often do you hear a real virtuoso? Not just some guy who shreds on a guitar real good, but somebody that defies you to believe that they’re even playing what they’re playing? Gonzalo Rubalcaba is that dude. This is the then-27-year-old pianist’s second public appearance in North America after being isolated in his native Cuba previously. This captures him playing in a trio with the ubiquitous Charlie Haden on bass and Paul Motian on drums, but the focus is on Rubalcaba all the way. By the time he finishes the first cut – Monk’s “Well You Needn’t” – you’re left gasping for breath and grasping for adjectives at the sheer force of it all. He come out on FIRE, launching run after run with astonishing clarity and creativity, breaking out some Cuban rhythm and displaying classical delicacy where required. Unbelievable.