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Album Review

Ron Carter, Jack DeJohnette, Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Skyline

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Ron Carter, Jack DeJohnette, Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Skyline
Substantial yet serene, sophisticated yet soothing, Skyline oozes with the earthiness of New York City. Here, Ron Carter, Jack DeJohnette, and Gonzalo Rubalcaba merged their broad skills into an assemblage of erudite conversations, each package wrapped with beauty and delicate care. Of the many common threads heard in this collection, none could be more precious than time. Yes, of course, the trio had a wealth of rich pockets, but the reference is made to time of another nature. They were in no rush. They let the music develop at its own pace. Good things come to those who wait. In the case of Skyline, that would be great things.

Befitting a long overdue reunion, the trio chose to play with old friends. Familiar tunes were reimagined and reenergized with the clearly abundant joy of playing together. A snareless DeJohnette created the necessary Afro-Cuban bolero feel for the timeless standard "Lagrimas Negras." Rubalcaba crescendoed softly and again vigorously, while Carter deftly raised the conversational bar. Carter then reached into his hip-pocket for "Gypsy." A tune first recorded some forty years ago with Chick Corea and DeJohnette, had a luster to it, a shiny new coat. Carter's walking bass allowed Rubalcaba to freely move about. Articulating every note, Rubalcaba again took his time, and explored the boundaries of Carter's stellar composition. It was time for DeJohnette to look into his treasure trove. Out came "Silver Hollow." Well sequenced, Rubalcaba was now able to move deeply in turnabout. The mesmerizing tune heightened his emotional scale, eliciting a heartfelt dive, anchored by Carter's steady, sturdy core. Years before, Rubalcaba wrote a piece dedicated to Carter. There was an entirely different vibe this time around with Carter actually playing on "Promenade." The circumstances and the depth of composition coupled to keep the sentiment and warmth of the recording session intact.

After a return to the Afro-Cuban sound of "Novia Mia," the trio transitioned to "A Quiet Place." This vintage Carter work of art was given a makeover. Its appeal, however, was mostly steeped in the grace of connectivity. The trio had reached a zenith of collective happiness and ease of conversation. In 1984, DeJohnette had honored Ahmad Jamal in song with his composition, "Ahmad the Terrible." Rubalcaba had both the pleasure and the challenge of adding his own voice, while capturing a screen shot of Jamal. With DeJohnette's groovy patterns and flair to play off, Rubalcaba moved brightly and boldly, succeeding on both counts. While Carter, forever the centerpiece, the rock, the engaging conversationalist, propelled the vocabulary. After the recording session was finished, or so they thought, the trio stayed in the studio and continued to play. They weren't recording anymore, just having fun noodling around together. Well, perhaps accidentally on purpose, it was still recording. It turned out to be the final track. "RonJackRuba" is the epitome of improvisation. Completely off the cuff, just messing with some grooves. It resulted in a cool fly-on-the-wall moment to be shared by all.

Skyline is a breath of fresh air, the very definition of jazz. Three cool cats chilling out and digging on each other. Skyline is a Grammy-worthy project.

Track Listing

Lágrimas Negras; Gypsy; Silver Hollow; Promenade; Novia Mia; A Quiet Place; Ahmad the Terrible; Siempre Maria; RonJackRuba.

Personnel

Gonzalo Rubalcaba: piano; Ron Carter: bass; Jack DeJohnette: drums.

Album information

Title: Skyline | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: 5Passion

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