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Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Fe...Faith

Dan McClenaghan By

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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.

Over the course of his career, Rubalcaba has worked with some of the best modern jazz players, including Joe Lovano, Michael Brecker, Charlie Haden, Paul Motian, but introduces his new record company with a solo outing—an eighty-minute jazz prayer. The music is graceful and refined, largely introspective and deeply reverential in tone, with the pianist's technical prowess on full display in a meditative and often economical fashion.

Rubalcaba's brief "Derivado 1" opens the set with a short declaratory note, drifting into the spare and sacred mood of another original, "Malerefun lya Lodde Me," a beautifully ruminative exploration of the spirit of the music of the Cuban Santeria religion. "Improvisations 2 (based on Coltrane)," features the pianist at his most virtuosic, as he invites the soul of the ever-spiritual saxophonist John Coltrane into the mix.

Rubalcaba also delivers two versions of Dizzy Gillespie's "Con Alma" that are tranquil, fluid examinations of its familiar melody. There are also two takes of the Miles Davis/Bill Evans classic, "Blue in Green." Both have a melancholy feeling, as if they are prayers of mourning, before and after the set's more joyful moment, "Oro," inspired by the Santeria religion, and a gorgeous and reverential triptych of tunes celebrating Rubalcaba's children,"Joan," "Joao" and "Yolanda Anas."

Rubalcaba revisits Coltrane with "Improvisation 1 (based on Coltrane)," to add a sparkle to the set, and closes out with another brief original, "Derivado 3," a delicately pretty "amen" of sorts, to Rubalcaba's most personal of records.

Track Listing: Derivado 1; Maferefun Iya Lodde Me; Improvisation 2 (based on Coltrane); Derivado 2; Con Alma 1; Precludio Corto #2 (Tu Amor Vera Falso); Blue in Green 1; Oro; Joan; Joao; Yolanda Anas; Blue in Green 2; Con Alma 3; Improvisation 1 (based on Coltrane); Derivado 3.

Personnel: Gonzalo Rubalcaba: piano.

Title: Fe...Faith | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: 5Passion

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