Gonzalo Rubalcaba | Short Cuts | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

Music News

Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Though this Gonzalo Rubalcaba fellow is an ace jazz pianist originally from Cuba, don't tag him a "Cuban" or "Afro-Cuban" jazz musician. While he's been influenced by his homeland's traditions, Rubalcaba's approach has been likewise impacted by classical music and the whole post-WWII jazz continuum, from bop, to free, to fusion. While one can hear shades of other great pianists in his playing — the deceptive simplicity of Thelonious Monk, the angular cool of Lennie Tristano — Rubalcaba has clearly and thoroughly absorbed their essences, but not their styles. He sounds like virtually no other. Avatar evokes Blue Note on-the-cusp-of-avant-garde classics like Andrew Hill's Point of Departure and Tony Williams' Life Time. The compositions are knotty and occasionally a bit thorny, but appealingly so, like a good movie mystery/drama (or a Monk tune) that elicits your close attention. Avatar always has a strong, rhythmic sense moving things along nicely — further, there's no long, meandering solos or tedious "explorations." Another expat from Cuba (and the Bay Area), multi-saxophonist Yosvany Terry, lets loose some spirited but finely honed solos, and Matt Brewer's rippling bass is rock-solid. Hyperbole alert: This is one of the best jazz discs of '08.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Mark Keresman