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Gonzalo Rubalcaba

IF it had been up to me, Gonzalo Rubalcaba would be highlighting tonight’s jazz festival, given his enormous gifts and facility with expanding the jazz vocabulary, in the manner in which Hiromi is attempting to do so.

Since he is almost near impossible to get, we’ll have to settle with his latest album, where he sets himself up in an incendiary ensemble, featuring Marcus Gilmore (drums), Matt Brewer (bass) and the redoubtable Lionel Loueke (guitar).

The Cuban-based landscape and Rubalcaba’s unfettered freedom  roam stylistically and creatively, and it shows in this humdinger.

The whole length and breadth of this album is roiling with virtuosic nods to jazz greats of the past but is also very circumspect in handling incredible passages.

Check out the expert interrogation of Moor, a Paul Bley-Gary Peacock composition, where Rubalcaba dives into an adventure in known and unknown territories.

Rubalcaba honours Bill Evans (Time Remembered) and Lennie Tristano (Lennie’s Pennies), both edging in harmonic sophistication.

Rubalcaba still indulges in limited flash and dazzle, if that’s what you require of him because of what he has done in previous albums, but XXI Century will grow exponentially in your mind as jazz of infinite credulity.