311

Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Avatar

By

Sign in to view read count
Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Avatar Having matured and no longer needing to prove his chops to others or himself, pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba has turned his attention to ensembling and orchestration, and in no other work is this more evident than Avatar. Only after multiple listens does it become clear how the compositions are driving the improvisations and not the other way around, and how the Cuban-born pianist/composer manages a wonderful balance between freedom, interpretation, and restraint, between composition, orchestration, and the soloing of his band mates.



Of Avatar's seven compositions, only one belongs to Rubalcaba, "Infantil (Dedicated to John McLaughlin)," originally written for piano, and which magnificently shows his skills as transcripter and arranger. Fellow Cuban-born saxophonist and composer Yosvany Terry, a talent coming into his own, contributes three tunes—"Looking in Retrospective," "This Is It," and "Hip Side," while young but graceful bassist Matt Brewer chips in with "Aspiring To Normalcy," a ballad or bolero that goes hand-in-hand with the other two compositions, Horace Silver's "Peace" and Alejandro Garcia Cartula's "Preludio Corto No.2 For Piano (Tu Amor Era Falso)."



Also backed by unassuming drummer Marcus Gilmore and trumpeter/flugelhornist Mike Rodriguez—both of whom, despite not given much solo time, add color and texture to each piece—Rubalcaba has surrounded himself with a top-of-the-line ensemble that has the feel of a big band or orchestra rather than a quintet, in the process redefining or doing away with the term Latin jazz. Indeed, it is as if Rubalcaba's saying: "This is just good, challenging music, so forget the genre." Highlights include an impeccable rendition of "Peace," "Hip Side," and "Infantil (Dedicated to John McLaughlin)."



Not taking anything away from the improvisations which are so appropriately intertwined with the compositions themselves, but like Andrew Hill's Dusk (Palmetto Records, 2000), Avatar is about the music and its architecture. Rather than being about the players per se, it's about the compositions and how each member or component of the quintet comes together to recreate them piece by piece, time and time again. With wonderful music and an even grander vision, Avatar is one of the top releases of this or any other year.


Track Listing: Looking in Perspective; This Is It; Aspiring to Normalcy; Peace; Hip Side; Infantil (Dedicated to John McLaughlin); Preludio Corto No. 2 for Piano (Tu Amor Era Falso).

Personnel: Gonzalo Rubalcaba: piano, keyboards; Yosvany Terry: alto, soprano and tenor saxophones, percussion; Mike Rodriguez: trumpet, flugelhorn; Matt Brewer: acoustic bass; Marcus Gilmore: drums.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Blue Note Records | Style: Latin/World


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Transparent Water" CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Of The Night" CD/LP/Track Review Of The Night
by Budd Kopman
Published: October 30, 2016
Read "Alien Flower Sutra" CD/LP/Track Review Alien Flower Sutra
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 24, 2016
Read "For The Unknown" CD/LP/Track Review For The Unknown
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 9, 2016
Read "Super Petite" CD/LP/Track Review Super Petite
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 12, 2016
Read "Out & About" CD/LP/Track Review Out & About
by Doug Collette
Published: July 3, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!