DIG! Magazine Winnipeg November/December 2010: Anat Cohen Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Phantasm Written by: Niall Bakkestad-Legare

In 1995, the Cuban-born pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba was booked for a week at Yoshi’s Nitespot in Oakland, California when the U.S. State Department refused to grant visas to his drummer and bassist. It just so happened that saxophonist Joe Lovano was trying to book the club for the same week. The club’s owner arranged for the two leaders to play the gig as a duo, and that lucky accident led to their wonderful studio recording, Flying Colors.

Even if the two musicians are from different countries and generations, they have very similar backgrounds. Both were born into musical families: Gonzalo’s father was a pianist and his two brothers musicians, and Lovano’s father was the Cleveland saxophone legend Tony “Big T” Lovano. Both are heavily steeped in the jazz tradition. Both have an affinity for the drums, and both are constantly searching for new sounds. Their compatibility has allowed them to create an album filled with musical chemistry, boundless creativity and sonic magic. Lovano says, “The whole process was comfortable and free. It was one of the most creative sessions I’ve ever been a part of.”

Flying Colors lives up to its title: it’s an array of vivid pigments splashed on canvas by this stunning duo. Whether it is Scott Lefaro’s “Gloria’s Step” or the free improvisations of “Mr. Hyde,” this album is dedicated to the search for rhythmic interplay in the absence of an explicit pulse. Silence is a crucial element in this album too, surrounding haunting unisons (such as in Ornette Coleman’s “Bird Food”), extended solos, and shifts in song structure. It seems more to me that the two musicians are challenging the need for structure, pulse, harmony, and melody, and inventing each piece from the ground up.
This strategy means that each selection becomes unique and atmospheric. In Paul Motian’s “Phantasm,” the improvisatory interaction sounds like a contemporary classical piece. Lovano creates some great, haunting melodies on the alto clarinet before Rubalcaba assumes the lead, while Lovano supports him with brushwork on drums. As a listener, you’re mesmerized.

Lovano and Rubalcaba seem to be proving that jazz is at its foundation a rhythmical language, and that whether the song be structured or free, unison or counterpoint, consonant or dissonant, two musicians can communicate with each other to create something transcendental: spontaneous art. As Lovano says, “The music poured out of us as though we were one… [It] just unfolded into a most beautiful tapestry of color.”

A lot has happened in the thirteen-odd years since the release of Flying Colors. Joe Lovano continues to sit atop of the jazz world, spearheading thrilling collaborations and experimenting with formats (like his double-drummer quintet). Gonzalo Rubalcaba has gone on to collaborate with Dave Holland, Chris Potter, Chick Corea and many others. Lovano has dazzled Winnipeg audiences, but Rubalcaba has yet to perform here. I, for one, would be thrilled to hear this outstanding pianist in person!

Dizzy Gillespie Quintet – Tin Tin Deo

Jazznights Stuttgart 2001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STUTTGART. Schon vor seiner Deutschlandtournee gab es mal wieder Presserummel um Chick Corea. Die Terroranschläge am 11. September müsse man “mit Musik aufarbeiten”. ließ er in einem Presseagentur-Interview verlauten. Er wolle nach den ersten Depressionen “weiter spielen, um die Menschen zu bewegen”. Auch in Stuttgart bleibt der mittlerweile 60-Jährige ein gern gesehener Gast, obwohl er als prominentes Scientologen-Mitglied 1990 nicht bei der mit öffentlichen Geldern gesponserten Leichtathletik-Weltmeisterschaft im kulturellen Rahmenprogramm auftreten durfte. Immerhin konnte vor geraumer Zeit – trotz aller Ängste vor der mysteriösen Hubbard-Organisation – das baden-württembergische Jugendjazzorchester sogar in den politisch-heiligen Hallen des Landtags den Corea-Welthit “Spain” intonieren. Und nun kooperiert der US-Amerikaner noch mit einem fidelen Künstler aus Castros Kuba….

Im Beethovensaal der Stuttgarter Liederhalle präsentierte sich Chick Corea zunächst einträchtig mit seinem Kollegen Gonzalo Rubalcaba. Man kennt und schätzt den am 27. Mai 1963 in Havanna geborenen Pianisten als einen überaus

wendigen Virtuosen, der mit seiner stupenden Technik stets Erstaunen auszulösen vermag. Wie etliche andere Pianisten (man denke nur an den Miles-Davis-Kompagnon Herbie Hancock) hat auch Chick Corea einst eine ausgiebige elektronifizierte Fusion-Phase hinter sich und erfreut sich nunmehr am großen Flügel an der reinen Akustik. Immer wieder begeisterte Corea mit seinem “Acoustic Trio” samt Kontrabass und Schlagzeug. Mit Herbie Hancock und dem Vibrafonisten Gary Burton ging er attraktive Duo-Verbindungen ein. Nun also die Zusammenarbeit mit Rubalcaba.

Vierhändig an zwei Flügeln eingangs ein Tango, den Chick Corea seiner 91-jährigen Mutter widmete (eine Rumba für den Vater Armando und seine “Children Songs” komplettierten an diesem Konzertabend den familiären Themen-Rahmen). Nicht scharfkantig, sondern eher weich im Timbre und moderat im Tempo schritt dieser argentinische Tanz einher. Elastisch und agogisch gingen beide Pianisten mit den Metren um – im Team mit Bass und Schlagzeug wäre eine derartige Musizierweise “quasi una fantasia” schlecht möglich gewesen. Im kommunikativen Doppel schufen Chick Corea und Gonzalo Rubalcaba ein gemeinsames Produkt, also keine Spur von einer hitzigen “piano battle”. Die relaxten Virtuosen ergingen sich in zärtliche Lyrismen.

Mit beindruckender Subtilität absolvierte Rubalcaba sodann seinen Solo-Part. Bereits bei seiner ersten Ballade schien J.S. Bach durchzuschimmern, und gerne praktizierte der Kubaner kontrapunktisch verknüpfte Linienführungen. Die rasantesten Läufe, meist mehr piano als forte, ließ er in selbstverständlicher Leichtigkeit dahinperlen . Schließlich streifte auch Gonzalo Rubalcaba die konventionelle Funktionsharmonik und kreierte eine Musik fernab aller orthodoxen Genre-Grenzen. Der Jazz in seinem traditionellen Sinn musste hierbei verblassen.

Mehr Blues-Feeling brachte nach der Pause Chick Corea in seinen solistischen Improvisationen ein. Mit dem doch recht frei gestalteten Standard “Round Midnight” erwies der arrivierte Miles-Davis-Alumnus dem verqueren Thelonious Monk seine Reverenz, mit “Yellow Nimbus” ehrte er den Flamenco-Gitarristen Paco de Lucia. Zu Noten und zur Lesebrille griff der arrivierte Jazzer, als er zwei friedfertige Préludes des russischen Komponisten Aleksandr Nikolajewitsch Skrjabin (1871 – 1915) interpretierte. Allenthalben im nur zur Hälfte gefüllten Beethovensaal eine heile Musikwelt, wo doch genau zur gleichen Zeit die ersten Raketen und Bomben in Afghanistan Krieg machten.

(Oktober 2001)

 

 

 

Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Richard Galliano – Casalmaggiore 2011

Jazz by Michael Dvorak

http://www.fotovisura.com/user/DvorakFoto/view/jazz-2

Jazz guitarist Al Di Meola remains driven by musical challenges by RON WYNN

Al Di Meola was just 19 years old when he joined one of the biggest instrumental ensembles in the world. The brilliant acoustic/electric guitarist replaced Bill Connors in the celebrated jazz-fusion band Return To Forever in 1974, joining keyboardist Chick Corea, bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White.

“I literally was a kid in terms of knowledge and experience, not just about music but the world,” Di Meola says, pausing to reflect during a recent phone interview. “Things sort of escalated quickly and my life really changed.”

From that foundation, which eventually yielded three hit albums and a Grammy award, Di Meola’s reputation as a marvelous improviser, soloist and band contributor was firmly established. Then the 1976 solo debut Land of the Midnight Sun revealed his writing skills and versatility. Since then, he has consistently distinguished himself with a string of outstanding releases showcasing different bands and styles.

He comes to Nashville for a Friday night date at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center’s Laura Turner Concert Hall with his current band New World Sinfonia, which he proudly says “is doing the most rewarding and challenging music of my career. These are compositions where sonics and volume don’t overpower anything. The two most important aspects for me are the improvisational element, the jazz base, and the melodic development. With New World Sinfonia these things are always in perfect balance.

“I know we’re in a period where there doesn’t seem to be the interest in world music and international sounds that was happening only a few years ago. But I’ve found that live audiences still enjoy and interact positively with the music. Indeed, live performance is what I’m emphasizing the most now, because that’s what keeps things going. The time it takes to go into a studio and make a recording, then you have to get into the marketplace and there are so few people now buying physical CDs that the risk/reward ratio is very low. By contrast, people are still listening to music in great numbers and responding and reacting to live performances.”

New World Sinfonia includes Fausto Beccalossi on accordion, Peo Afonsi on acoustic guitar, Victor Miranda on bass and dual percussionists Peter Kaszas and Gumbi Ortiz. The band’s menu covers everything from flamenco and tango to experimental jazz, blues, traditional folk, or songs with Latin and African rhythms and influences.

The group’s diversity reflects not only Di Meola’s 20-plus recordings and the array of genres they cover, but his many other remarkable collaborations and sessions. He’s led both an acoustic guitar trio with Paco De Lucia and John McLaughlin and a unit called the Rite of Strings with violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and bassist Clarke. Di Meola’s recorded and performed alongside opera legend Luciano Pavarotti and tango master Astor Piazzolla, then turned around and worked with pop stars Paul Simon and Dave Matthews as well as Steve Winwood, Phil Collins and Carlos Santana. For Di Meola, the issue is never category but inspiration and quality.

“I’ve always gravitated to musical situations where I was able to combine the things that intrigue and attract me the most,” Di Meola says. “Those are the improvisational element with folk melodies and traditional rhythms from around the world. I’ve always written on the acoustic guitar because I find that developing the story, finding the melody, works best on acoustic. You can do things there in terms of scales and arpeggios that really aid you in building the melody. The electric gives you a sonic power that can be breathtaking.

“They are distinct instruments, and I always let the song dictate which instrument will work. But I’ve never really thought about doing something from the standpoint of category or genre. It’s always been, is this something that is musically rewarding?”

Besides his World Sinfonia tour, which will continue through the year, he’s now collaborating with another keyboard giant, the fiery Cuban player Gonzalo Rubalcaba. “He’s the greatest pianist in the world today,” Di Meola says. “His touch, range, sensitivity and technique are astonishing, and he’s an amazing writer as well. I was stunned when he told me that he liked and respected my music because that’s certainly how I feel about him.” They are writing songs, and Di Meola hopes to eventually do some projects with him, both with World Sinfonia and as a piano/guitar team.

Though he briefly joined former comrades Corea, White and Clarke for the 25-year Return to Forever reunion tour in 2008, Di Meola says that experience put a cap on his RTF life and fusion identity. “It was fun for a while to revisit those years and songs, but quite frankly I much prefer the music that I’m doing today,” Di Meola says. “I’m no longer really interested, either in writing or playing, in that style for a number of reasons. The volume that’s needed to make it work for one.

“Second, I’ve moved into a different world in terms of the music I hear in my head now. I want to keep exploring sounds from around the World. North African music, Latin, Cuban, and seeing where it all fits in with the things that I’ve always done, and how you incorporate the jazz foundation into it. That’s the challenge for me today.”

 

Al Di Meola | Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody EPK

Un jazzista con fe en la era digital El Universal.mx Lunes 28 de febrero de 2011

Gonzalo Rubalcaba lanzará su próximo disco llamado Faith/Fe de manera independiente, por medio de su propio sello, Sinco-Pasión, el próximo 4 de marzo en Miami, Florida.

Aunque Faith/Fe se lanzó a finales del 2010 en su formato digital, el jazzista desea dar a conocer el disco físico, además de que se siente emocionado de que Sinco-Pasión inicie actividades, tanto con sus propios trabajos, así como con otros jazzistas.

“El formato digital se hace conveniente para el tipo de vida, sobre todo de las ciudades en que se vive muy rápido. Facilita el acceso a un producto”, manifestó el jazzista cubano, aunque destacó que no se debe dejar atrás el disco físico.

“El producto digital pierde la magia de tener el disco en tus manos, de poder leer las hojas del libro, de poseer el arte. Hay una serie de cosas que ya es, aparentemente, del pasado al que yo me niego que desaparezca”.

Debido a que Sinco-Pasión es una disquera independiente, la venta del disco físico será tan sólo por Amazon. Cabe destacar que esta será la primera producción independiente del creador de “Contagio” y “Ellioko”.

Rubalcaba aprovechó para dar a conocer sus ideas sobre las nuevas formas en que se mueve la industria musical: “Estamos viviendo unos tiempos muy confusos con respecto a cómo se vende la obra musical

“Ya se sabe que hay una batalla entre el concepoto tradicional de las grandes compañías y su deseo de permanecer como tal. La facilidad que da la tecnología es reinventar otras formas de vender tu producto”.

Añadió que “tampoco estoy diciendo que desaparezcan las grandes compañías, pero sí tienen que darse cuenta de que estamos viviendo una era diferente”, destacó el músico.

Visita a México

Gonzalo Rubalcaba visitará la ciudad de México en el marco de la Sound Check Xpo, que se realizará en el World Trade Center del 20 al 22 de marzo. Ahí ofrecerá una master class en la que recibirá a jóvenes mexicanos.

“En esos encuentros no solamente se beneficia una parte, sino que se benefician ambas: quien está impartiendo y quien está escuchando”.

Hasta el momento esa será la única presentación del jazzista en México. Sin embargo se presentará a lo largo del año en algunos de los festivales más importantes de jazz en Europa durante el verano.

También destacó que está formando un trío que lo acompañará en dichas presentaciones, pero que no tiene planeada la grabación de un disco próximamente debido a que no tiene prisa por apresura el proceso creativo que conlleva la escritura de cada una de las canciones. .

“No soy dado a hacer discos seguidos porque me interesa crecer con el disco y con los materiales con los que estoy trabajando. Crece el trabajo y también crece uno”.

Rubalcaba inició su carrera en los ochenta, primero con el conjunto cubano llamado Orquesta Aragón, con quienes se presentó en algunos países de África, además de Francia.

Posteriormente formó su propia agrupación llamada Grupo Proyecto que no tuvo ninguna grabación.

Su carrera de solista comenzó en 1987 con la salida de su primer disco titulado Mi gran pasión. Hasta el momento cuenta con 25 producciones discográficas propias y diversas colaboraciones con otros jazzistas.

 

 

 

 

Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Joao Bosco, Ivan Lins, Ignacio Berroa

Chick Corea and Gonzalo Rubalcaba “Caravan”

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