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Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Borrowed Roses

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Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Borrowed Roses
While many men and women approach their sixtieth birthday with visions of retirement, pianist and iconoclast Gonzalo Rubalcaba, with his perceptive ear for folk dance and dense improvisation, moves as far as possible from the idea of retirement and attains another peak of perfection on Borrowed Roses.

Unlike his previous head-turning, stylistic solo recordings—the Latin Grammy-winning Solo (Blue Note, 2005) and the spirit cleansing Fe Faith (5Passion, 2019)—Borrowed Roses contemplates popular song and standards.

Coming off yet another Grammy win for Skyline (5Passion, 2022), a highly distinguished trio outing with Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette, Rubalcaba, avowed that music, like imagination and creativity, is never a static thing. He focuses his formidable interpretative prowess on two melodic Billy Strayhorn gems, "Chelsea Bridge" and "Lush Life," centering the melodies within themselves, choosing not to buoy them with the rich harmonic accents which made the originals memorable. That is not to imply in any way that Rubalcaba's approach and playing is anything less than memorable.

Taken back to back, and guided by the lyrical flow, two George Gershwin classics, "Summertime" and "Someone To Watch Over Me," become of one piece, each glorying in the external (the season of the sun) and the internal (the season of longing). Perhaps not an original pairing (given the many times each has been performed down the decades) but certainly an inspiring one, and one which spotlights Rubalcaba's intricate delicacy and determination.

If it were not for the instant familiarity of Paul Desmond's game-changing "Take Five," this performance could be taken as one of the pianist's own time-defying compositions, his coordination and solo improvs holding court. More and more jazz players are recognizing the depth and durability of the John Lennon-Paul McCartney songbook, guaranteeing future years of great music; the pianist takes his place among the true interpreters, translating the emotional core of "Here, There, and Everywhere" with a clarity which a surviving Beatle might marvel at. Rubalcaba muses and expands on Chick Corea "Windows;" conjures and calls onBill Evans with "Very Early," and closes the regal Borrowed Roses with the hushed elegance of Sting's understated ballad "The Shape of My Heart."

Track Listing

Chelsea Bridge; Summertime; Someone to Watch Over Me; Take Five; Here There and Everywhere; Windows; Lush Life; Night and Day; In a Sentimental Mood; Very Early; Do It Again; Shape of My Heart.

Personnel

Album information

Title: Borrowed Roses | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Top Side Music


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