The Birmingham Times – Musical Notes- Written By Esther Callens- Thursday, 14 June 2012
There is a wonderful new collection available for the fans of Afro-Cuban music. XXI Century by Grammy Award winning pianist and composer Gonzalo Rubalcaba is a two disc set of some really great music. The maestro of the ivories, Rubalcaba, has most certainly blown the roof off with this collection.
Gonzalo Rubalcaba was born in Havana, Cuba to a musical family in the early sixties. His father was a musician and their house was often visited by numerous entertainers. This perhaps piqued his interest in music. In referencing Rubalcaba, his press release states, “In a career that has spanned 25 years and nearly 30 releases, including a string of acclaimed recordings for the prestigious Blue Note label, Cuban piano virtuoso Gonzalo Rubalcaba has awed critics and fans alike with his prodigious technique and depth of soul as a composer. On XXI Century, his second recording on his 5Passion imprint, Rubalcaba lets his Afro-Cuban roots bubble to the top while also paying tribute to two heroes in Bill Evans and Lennie Tristanto.”
Concerning XXI, it states, “ While Gonzalo and crew exhibit near telepathic interplay on more subdued fare like Evans’ gorgeous “Time Remembered” Brewer’s rubato “Anthem” and (Paul) Bley’s zen-like swinger “Moor(e)”, the energy level spikes on Rubalcaba originals like “Nueva Cubana”, “Oshun” and “Son XXI”, all of which expertly blend Cuban folkloric elements with daring jazz improvisation. (Pedro) Martinez also lends his stirring vocals on the folkloric “Oshun,” which conjures up an authentic Santeria ritual with Rubalcaba’s subtle synth seasonings on top and he stretches out in a jazzy vein on an irrepressibly swinging interpretation of Tristano’s “Lennie’s Pennies,” revealing yet another aspect of his multi-cultural virtuosity.”
Gonzalo Rubalcaba is a rare talent who has evolved in the jazz genre. He is at the forefront taking control of the helm of the Afro-Cuban music industry.