Gonzalo Rubalcaba aims squarely for modernity with XXI Century (5Passion 010; 48:49/40:45 HH ) featuring his trio of  Matt Brewer and Marcus Gilmore and numerous guests. With a recurring undercurrent of Cuban rhythm, the pianist bows to his roots, but he seems as interested in taking his music to a more slippery realm, one where time becomes more elastic and hammered arpeggios move against backgrounds that slide in and out of focus. Brewer and Gilmore are ideal compatriots for this kind of voyage, and Rubalcaba makes the most of their ability to groove while keeping the ground shifting under your feet. A secondary theme is the radical revoicing of compositions by Bill Evans, Paul Bley and Lennie Tristano, each of whom did similar sleight of hand during their own time. This is smart, adventurous fun that works well on several levels.

 

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