The second posthumously released duo album featuring Charlie Haden. The first last year was with Jim Hall recorded in Montreal in 1990. This latest one, poetically titled as Tokyo Adagio, is more recent, Haden duetting with the Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba and draws from a March 2005 Blue Note Tokyo club four-night residency. The polite audience reaction and applause is respectful and the sound of a few knives and forks neither here nor there in the background not distracting: the album feels lived in, which is far better than clinical.
Antiguo is different than most Gonzalo Rubalcaba records. The pianist spends a lot of time exploring synthesizers. Rubalcaba and his longtime quartet (trumpeter Reynaldo Melian, bassist Felipe Cabrera, and drummer Julio Barreto) are joined in spots by the voices of Maridalia Hernandez and Lazaro Ros, percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo, and violinist Dagoberto Gonzalez.
Cuban-born/Miami-based pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba boasts a discography of some 25 albums, including a dozen discs for the esteemed Blue Note label. Having established star status for himself with numerous Grammy nominations and two wins, Rubalcaba steps out with the first release on his independent 5Passion label, Fe…Faith.
After taking the jazz world by storm with his exciting debut CD on Blue Note in 1991, Gonzalo Rubalcaba continued to delight his fans throughout the decade with one great recording after another. "Yolanda Anas," "Joan," and "Joao" – each one a tribute to one of his children – are intimate musical portraits that have a childlike simplicity, but also memorable melodies that linger in the mind. A salute to Blue Note president Bruce Lundvall is a complex post-bop blues featuring fierce solos by tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker and bassist Jeff Chambers.
On the ambitious CD XXI Century, Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba continues to develop the ideas of modernity and fusion hinted at on previous recordings, with greater depth and breadth. Smartly accompanied by his trio of bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Marcus Gilmore, and augmented on certain tracks by guests, Rubalcaba moves with ease between styles and approaches, personal history and big concepts.
Paseo is unique among Rubalcaba's discography in that he revisits directly the music of his homeland. Not that he hasn't always operated within the Afro-Cuban mode; but here, years after his emigration to America, he has struck up an intelligent and challenging conversation with the music that is now a part of the very foundations of his culture and likewise his personal development. The mere act signifies that he has enough confidence in his own wisdom and originality to tinker with the fundamentals. He also feels he's matured sufficiently to tackle some of his own material for a second time ("Santo Canto" from 1992's Rapsodia , for instance), even retitling "Supernova II" as "Quasar."
This was the first of Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba's recordings to appear in the United States, and it's a stunning introduction to his work. He's more than ably supported by Charlie Haden and Jack DeJohnette, with Haden's fundamentalist approach to the bass acting as a secure anchor to Rubalcaba's frequent flights of virtuosity and DeJohnette's polyrhythmic approach. With his deep roots in the rhythmic language of Cuban music, Rubalcaba brings a subtle and complex pulse to even his most reflective moments at the keyboard. He's also rooted in some of the more adventurous paths that jazz took in the 1960s, as that stellar rhythm section would suggest. It shows in the original approaches that he finds to Coltrane's "Giant Steps," Bill Evans's "Blue in Green," and Ornette Coleman's "The Blessing."
One of the most important figures to emerge from Afro-Cuban jazz in the '90s, Gonzalo Rubalcaba is an extraordinarily versatile pianist able to blend disparate strands of Cuban and American jazz tradition into a fresh, modern whole.
Gorgeous and sensitive, this edition of Solos: The Jazz Sessions might seem a bit disingenuous, even antithetical to many notions of jazz, simply due to the effortless, slick way in which it's put together. Though seemingly conflicted in part for a document of jazz, this disk in the end serves up a truly tasty assortment, almost a full hour of fantastic music and sumptuous visuals. I suppose it's up to you, after reading this, to decide if you want your jazz delivered to the table in such fashion.