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Weekly Latin Jazz Video Fix: Gonzalo Rubalcaba

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Gonzalo Rubalcaba
Some individuals offer more to the world than a simple series of performances; instead, they spend their lives overflowing with music. These people dive into music at a young age, often moving between instruments and taking any available performance opportunity. As they learn more about music, they don't just move forward, they surge ahead in leaps and bounds. Multitudes of musicians seek their employment in numerous ensembles, but that's never enough—they eventually find themselves leading other musicians through original creations. Wherever they go, they inspire the development of high quality musical products and spread huge amounts of creative energy. These individuals carry so much music around inside their souls, that it simply can't be restrained.

Pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba has exuded an ample amount of music during his life, inspiring stunning musicality everywhere that he goes. His environment as a child started him on the path towards being a musician, as he grew up under one of Cuba's great piano players Guillermo Rubalcaba. Gonzalo certainly gained a good deal of exposure from his father, but he got additional guidance from the community of musicians around him that included Peruchin, Frank Emilio, and more. He dived into both piano and drums as a child, eventually settling upon the piano as his focus in conservatory training. He worked through an intensive classical training, while finding time to investigate classic recordings from North American musicians like Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, and more. His growing skill set led to a number of performance opportunities after graduation including a European tour with the legendary Cuban group Orquesta Aragon. He formed his own Grupo Projecto, which moved through the jazz festival circuit, and in the eighties, the German label Messidor recorded a series of albums with his quartet. During this time, Rubalcaba met bassist Charlie Haden, who quickly became a major champion of the young pianist. Haden introduced Blue Note Records to Rubalcaba's work, and the iconic company proceeded to release a string of fourteen albums from the pianist. Rubalcaba stunned the U.S. audiences with his technical skill and overwhelming musicality, and he quickly became embedded into the stateside jazz scene. He won Grammy Awards for Nocturneand Land of the Sunas well as Latin Grammy Awards for Soloand Supernova, in addition to a number of other honors. As his jazz career kicked into high gear, he made a move to the States, settling into North American life with his wife and three children. In 2010, he branched into a new direction, creating his own record label 5Passion in order to distribute his recordings. His first release on the label, , arrives in June, and it contains an immensely beautiful two-disc collection of solo piano works. With each new project, Rubalcaba continues to deliver an abundance of high quality and engaging music that pushes the boundaries of the Latin Jazz world.

Rubalcaba brings smart, passionate music to every performance situation, sharing his immense knowledge and insight at every opportunity. His latest release, , once again proves his ability to deliver all these qualities and more, spilling over with engaging music. In celebration of Rubalcaba's powerful musicality and this stunning new release, today's Weekly Latin Jazz Video Fix is dedicated to the influential pianist. Our first video presents a young Rubalcaba performing with his Grupo Projecto in Cuba, placing a distinctly fusion edge on his music. The next clip moves ahead in time a bit, finding Rubalcaba at the Mt. Fuji Jazz Festival in 1992. The third piece place Rubalcaba in a completely different setting, as he performs a solo piano version of the Juan Tizol classic “Caravan." The last snippet is an all-out blowing session on the timeless piece “Autumn Leaves" with bassist John Patitucci and drummer Jack DeJohnette. There's a seemingly endless amount of music in Rubalcaba that you can hear in abundance across these videos—enjoy!

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This story appears courtesy of The Latin Jazz Corner by Chip Boaz.
Copyright © 2016. All rights reserved.

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