Gonzalo Rubalcaba (born May 27, 1963 in HavanaCuba) is a Grammy Award-winning Cuban jazz pianist and composer.[1]

Gonzalo Julio Gonzalez Fonseca was born in Havana, Cuba, May 27, 1963, into a musical family rich in the traditions of the country’s artistic past. During his childhood, in addition to the standard fare of elementary schools, Gonzalo was absorbing his Cuban musical heritage through personal contacts within his family, notably his father, pianist Guillermo Rubalcaba, and leading musicians who were frequent houseguests: Frank Emilio, Peruchin, Felipe Dulzaides and others. He also assimilated through scarce and treasured recordings the tunes and styles of 40’s – 70’s US jazz masters: Thelonius Monk, Bud Powell, Oscar Peterson among pianists; and instrumentalists Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Art Blakey.

Initially he studied both piano and drums. He began his classical musical training at Manuel Saumell Conservatory at age 9, where he had to choose piano; he moved up to “middle-school” at Amadeo Roldan Conservatory, and finally earned his degree in music composition from Havana’s Institute of Fine Arts in 1983. By that time he was already playing in clubs and music halls in Havana.

Gonzalo Rubalcaba has received 14 Grammy nominations (wining 2 Grammys for Nocturne and Land of the Sun, and 2 Latin Grammys for Solo and Supernova) including four for Jazz Album of the Year (Rapsodia in 1995, Antiguo and Inner Voyage in 1999, and Supernova in 2002). He received the Palme d’Or from the Music Academy in Paris in 1991. He also received 2 “Best Performer” awards for “Suite 4y20” and “Rapsodia” in 1992 and 1993 respectively. In 2008, Gonzalo was awarded the “Vanguard Award” by The ASCAP Foundation for “charting new directions in Jazz”.

Egrem Studios of Havana was the first to record his music during the early and mid ‘80’s, and these discs are still being released (recently Inicio, an album of piano solos, and Concierto Negro.) With Orquesta Aragon he toured France and Africa in 1980. He introduced his own Grupo Projecto to the North Sea and Berlin Festivals in l985. Beginning in 1986 Gonzalo began recording for Messidor of Frandfurt, Germany, and put out three albums for that label with his Cuban Quartet, Mi Gran Pasion, Live in Havana, and Giraldilla.

In 1986 he had a chance meeting in Havana with bassist Charlie Haden. Through Charlie Haden he came to the attention of Bruce Lundvall president of Blue Note Records, and thus began an association, first with Toshiba/EMI of Japan, and later with Blue Note in the US, which has resulted in the release of eleven discs. In July 1990 he appeared as a surprise guest with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian at the Montreux Festival, Switzerland, released on the CD titled ‘Discovery’). In June 2001 Gonzalo received the SFJAZZ Leaders Circle Laureate Award, and in 2002 he performed as Artist in Residence at Montreal Jazz Festival together with Chucho Valdez.

In 2002, these collaborations brought him both a Latin Grammy for Jazz Album of the Year, Supernova, as well as a joint-Grammy with Charlie Haden for co-production of Nocturne, a Verve release of Cuban and Mexican boleros and ballads.

In 2010, Gonzalo founded his own record label entitled 5Passion with music enthusiast Gary Galimidi. He released his first independent offering on the label entitled “Fé” in November 2010. Gonzalo continues to tour the world as a solo pianist, and as band leader.

Gonzalo married in November 1986, and he and Maria now have three children, ages 14, 17 and 20. The family moved to Santo Domingo in 1992, and then to the US in November 1996. All members of his family are U.S. Citizens, Gonzalo and Maria becoming citizens in December 2003.

Discography

  • Mi Gran Pasion (1987)
  • Live in Havana (1989)
  • Giraldilla (1990)
  • Discovery: Live at Montreux (1990)
  • The Blessing (1991)
  • Images: Live at Mt. Fuji (1991)
  • Suite 4 y 20 (1992)
  • Rapsodia (1992)
  • Imagine (1993)
  • Diz (1993)
  • Concatenacion (1995)
  • Flying Colors (1997) ave Joe Lovano
  • Antiguo (1998)
  • Inner Voyage (1999)
  • Supernova (2001)
  • Inicio (2001)
  • Nocturne (2001) avec Charlie Haden
  • Paseo (2004) avec New Cuban Quartet (nommé aux Latin Grammy Awards 2005)
  • Land Of The Sun (2004) avec Charlie Haden
  • Solo (2006) (nommé aux Latin Grammy Awards 2006)
  • Avatar (2008)
  • Fé (2010)