Cuban Pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba burst onto the American jazz scene in the early 1990s with his over-caffeinated piano gymnastics. To be fair to the young performer, he had musical talent beyond his years, and with the State Departments restrictions on his appearances in the US he would squeeze an entire tour into one night’s concert. Since being allowed to move to the U.S. his music has relaxed, allowing him to develop at a somewhat sane pace.
He recorded Flying Colors, a session of duets with saxophonist Joe Lovano in 1997, a synthesizer and keyboards album Antiqua ala Chick Corea, and most recently Nocturne (Verve), a romantic slow-dance session of Cuban and Mexican tunes with Charlie Haden. Rubalcaba has branched out from his pyrotechnic-laden beginning as if in defiance of his critics to prove that he has soul.
Supernove proves the pianist has plenty of heart rooted in a traditional Cuban music past and a head pointed into a diverse North American future. This recording starts at the Buena Vista Social Club, performing music of his paternal grandfather Jacobo Rubalcaba. “El Cadete Constituitional” (or The Constituitional Cadet) opens as a throwback to early Cuban jazz, only to march to an ending with a very modern synthesizer solo. Rubalcaba’s roots run deep, and he displays them with much pride here. He applies the Mexican standard “Alma Mia” with an honest melancholy lyricism, and takes back the promise of bebop on “LaVoz Del Centro.” He hasn’t lost his desire for furious runs as he ignites on the aptly titled “The Hard One,” with bit of Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” sampled for flavor. The title track parts one and two, performed by a very tight trio, sum up his musical stance this new millenium. He utilizes styles from his native land to Africa and Europe in a jazz tradition of varying rhythms and time into a wow-factored trio interplay. The record closes with the environmental piece “Oren” (or Pray) a drums heavy piano/synthesizer piece with a nod to the future.
Track Listing: Supernova 1; El Cadete Constitucional; Alma Mia; LaVoz Del Centro; El Manicero; Supernova 2; Otra Mirada; The Hard One; Oren.
I was first exposed to Jazz when a couple of dear friends of mine turned me onto it around 1971. I was already into Progressive music, R n' B, Soul, Motown, Latin Rock and other styles that were a great ladder to Jazz
I was first exposed to Jazz when a couple of dear friends of mine turned me onto it around 1971. I was already into Progressive music, R n' B, Soul, Motown, Latin Rock and other styles that were a great ladder to Jazz.
Being a Musician myself, (Lead Guitar/Bass Guitar), I studied at the Dick Grove School of Music with Dick Grove, Jeff Richman and Lee Ritenour. This was around '84-'85. I started playing the Guitar in November 1967. Playing Guitar came quite naturally to me thank goodness. Though I spent hours upon hours practicing while my school buddies were doing Sports.
It was in the early '70s that I really got into Jazz, Jazz Rock, Jazz Fusion and World Music. Seeing Weather Report, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Larry Carlton, Steely Dan, John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, RTF, Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, VSOP, Freddie Hubbard and so many, many more amazing artists opened my eyes to the beauty and eloquent nature of Jazz. I really love the brilliant ensemble playing that is in Jazz!!
When I play and write music, it blends so many style together. Many fans ask me why my playing sounds so jazzy. It's because I understand Blue Notes, the phrasing, the tonality, time signatures and more. I can also play Rock, Folk, Soul, R n' B and other styles too. I seem to gravitate more and more as I get older to a jazzier style. Currently I'm 62 years old. I have released 2 CDs world-wide. Working on my 3rd.
I also teach Guitar/Bass/Music Theory to my students. They range from 6 years old to much, much older. (I was hired by the City of Aurora, CO to teach ages 6-13 specifically). Currently I teach 41 children in 5 classes. Additionally another 7 private students.
My wife, Meesh, and I love Jazz dearly. It was one of the things that we share together!
Most of the people that I know today do not get jazz. I try to explain what to listen for, but many times the music of Jazz is a bit much for them. So be it.
In a nutshell, I live, breath and listen to Music 24/7. No TV except the Food Channel and Weather.
I love John Kelman's articles. They are so insightful and well-constructed!
Thank you all for doing what you do.