47

Gonzalo Rubalcaba: XXI Century

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
If Gonzalo Rubalcaba were a major league pitcher, he would be a seasoned veteran with the knowledge that to be effective he would have to be the master of multiple pitches. Gone are his rookie days when he could throw nothing but fastballs to get outs.

Same for Gonzalo Rubalcaba, jazz pianist. Twenty-five years ago he wowed audiences with his powerful attack and blinding speed. As his sound has matured, he has begun communicating with more subtlety, throwing audiences more off-speed and graceful pitches.

XXI Century is the second release from his own imprint, and like the previous solo outing, Fe...'Faith (5 Passion, 2011), he continues to reveal his expanding repertoire. This double disc plays off Cuban themes, percussive fusion, funk, and introspective improvisation.

Well chosen guests supplement his working trio of bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Marcus Gilmore. Rubalcaba's opening "Nueva Cubana" traverses a percussive attack to etch itself upon the electricity of Gary Galimidi's guitar. The sound is not so much a fusion of rock and Cuban jazz as it is a mutual path. Same with the funk laid down on "Fifty." Lionel Loueke's Afropop guitar bumps into Gilmore's groove, and Rubalcaba's Cuban vibe ties West Africa to North America and the Caribbean.

With the help of percussionist Pedro "Pedrito" Martinez, the groove stays firmly rooted in Cuba. "Son XXI" highlights the pianist's percussive attack, matching the clavé with the keyboard—a dare to sit still.

While the pyrotechnics are present, the pianist also shows another side, covering Lennie Tristano's "Lennie Pennies" as Keith Jarrett might eschewing rhythmic emotion for a mathematical precision. His take on Paul Bley's "Moore" and Bill Evans' "Time Remembered" expose a very thoughtful side, where the pianist opens compositions up to lighter swing.

Rubalcaba has mastered a backdoor strike here, not to keep the listeners off balance but to display his full array of talents.

Track Listing: CD1: Nueva Cubana; Time Remembered; Fifty; Anthem; Oshun; CD2: Moore; Son XXI; Alafia; Lennie’s Pennies; Oshun (short version).

Personnel: Gonzalo Rubalcaba: piano, Yamaha CFX, keyboards; Matt Brewer: acoustic double bass, arco bass, electric bass; Marcus Gilmore: drums; Ignacio Berroa: drums; Pedro "Pedrito" Martinez: percussion, voice; Lionel Leouke: guitar, voice; Gary Galimidi: electric guitar.

Title: XXI Century | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: 5Passion


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Whispers on the Wind CD/LP/Track Review Whispers on the Wind
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman CD/LP/Track Review Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Heptagon CD/LP/Track Review Heptagon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 23, 2017
Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "Friendly Ghosts" CD/LP/Track Review Friendly Ghosts
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 1, 2017
Read "Some Great Songs Vol. 2" CD/LP/Track Review Some Great Songs Vol. 2
by Budd Kopman
Published: April 3, 2017
Read "The Eastcote Studios Session" CD/LP/Track Review The Eastcote Studios Session
by John Eyles
Published: November 30, 2016
Read "Western Edges" CD/LP/Track Review Western Edges
by John Sharpe
Published: July 2, 2017
Read "Intenso!" CD/LP/Track Review Intenso!
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 7, 2016
Read "Far From Over" CD/LP/Track Review Far From Over
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 28, 2017

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY IT!  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.