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CD Review: Gonzalo Rubalcaba - Faith (Fé)

Contributors: Wilbert Sostre
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  • Genre: Jazz - Classical
  • Personnel:
    Musicians: Gonzalo Rubalcaba - piano
  • Tracks:
    Tracks: Derivado 1, Maferefun Lya Lodde Me, Improvisation 2, Derivado 2, Con Alma 1, Preludio Corto #2, Blue in Green 1, Oro, Joan, Joao, Yolanda Anas, Blue in Green 2, Con Alma 3, Improvisation 1, Derivado 3

Gonzalo Rubalcaba is a well recognized and respected name in the jazz scene. His classically trained background, along with his knowledge of Jazz and the music of his native Cuba, make him an equally impressive musician either playing art or popular music.

Faith is the premiere release on his newly founded 5Passion (cincopasión or sincopation) label. This is a solo piano album, a setting similar to a classical piano recital. Just Rubalcaba and his piano, and of course there is no need for anything else.

Faith starts with "Derivado 1", a short piece with some dissonances that serves as an introduction to "Maferefun Lya Lodde Me", a praise in the lucumi language to the orisha Oshun (Lucumi is a Yoruba dialect spoken by practitioners of the Santería religion in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Dominican Republic).

All throughout, Rubalcaba demonstrates his clean and impeccable technique product of his classical piano studies in Cuba. On "Improvisation 1 and 2", based on the chord changes of John Coltrane's Giant Steps, Rubalcaba displays his virtuosity with fast piano runs and scalar improvisations reminiscent of Coltrane himself. The short phrases and use of dissonances also have some similarities to pianist Cecil Taylor.

"Derivado 2 and 3" are variations based on the second track "Maferefun Lya Lodde Me". The sophisticated dissonant chords and the effectve playing in the high notes of the piano evokes the sounds of another jazz master, pianist Thelonious Monk.

"Con Alma 1 and 3" are delicate and elegant interpretations of Dizzy Gillespie's composition, played with soul as the tittle suggest. Rubalcaba creates a perfect balance of emotion and virtuosity in the classically tinged piece "Preludio Corto # 2 (Tu Amor era Falso" and in the Miles Davis/Bill Evans classic "Blue in Green".

Rubalcaba attack is more aggresive and percussive in "Oro", an original composition that brings together classical and cuban music with touches of free jazz. Faith also includes three poetic and refined originals dedicated to Rubalcaba two daughters and son, "Joan", " Yolanda Anas" and "Joao". These compositions were recorded originally on his album Inner Voyage.

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