Gonzalito Rubalcaba: A World Class Musician

25 de diciembre de 2011, 12:02The   27th International Jazz Plaza Festival gained extra prominence with the visit   of Gonzalo Julio González Fonseca, a.k.a Gonzalito Rubalcaba, an authentic   Cuban “piano man,” as Rafael Lam writes in Prensa Latina.
After 10 years without   performing before Cuban audiences, Gonzalito Rubalcaba´s presence was highly   anticipated by jazz lovers. A man born in the midst of the Beatles boom, on   May 27, 1963 in Havana, Gonzalito is the heir to a dynasty of musicians.
His father, Guillermo González Camejo (Rubalcaba), is the piano player with   Charanga Rubalcaba; his grandfather, Jacobo González Rubalcaba, was a band   director, a classic Cuban danzón player, who wrote that beautiful piece   called “El Cadete Constitucional” (The Constitutional Cadet).
In his performances, Gonzalito Rubalcaba presents a synthesis of his studies   in Cuba, his experimentations, his natural talent and his projects with many   of the most famous piano players in modern jazz today.
Along with his perfect piano training, he shows a very solid maturity. He   performs sounds that are not too usual in the world of jazz piano playing. He   knows how to play with all possibilities offered by harmonic ideas, the   colors, the dynamics, the real “touch of grace” that Europeans talk   about.
Simple and responsible by nature, a man of few words, he does not like to   waste time, and when something is not synchronized, he gets very anxious. His   life is focused on studying and playing the piano, on the creation of music.
In 1984, he was catapulted by US trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and bassist   Charlie Haden into the world of jazz stars. Gillespie said at that time that   he had not met such an accomplished musician in a long time. “He is the best   piano player I have heard for many years. Now, right now, he is the best   piano player in the 90s”. And Charlie Haden considered him the great unexpected   appearance in the jazz universe.
In 1996, Gonzalito started living in the Dominican Republic, in order to   reach a wider market. He lived in the Dominican Republic for 10 years, then   moved to Orlando, Florida, USA.
“I found myself in another world, another language, I faced a different   dynamics, I learned to work with the balance of sounds, the metric motor,   diction, harmony, with the other musicians I worked with. I became involved   in musical composition, forms and structure. I began a period of reflection,   of change, of musical enrichment. I was in constant search; I play the   traditional stuff, but with a different angle. My record Supernova is an exploratory work, a summary of my work.
“In my early years, I inclined more towards rhythm. Every young man   wants to show his virtuosity, his complexity. Now, I am immersed in an   evolution towards the melodic. I want to connect the melody with the jazz   phrasing and the Cuban vocabulary. I am entering the area of the   poetic.”
Now he likes to work in the development of harmony with his left hand in some   rhythmic patterns, and the result of all this has been the recording of 14 cds,   15 Grammy nominations, and 5 Grammy Awards.
Several of his records are collaborations with Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea,   Al Dimeola, and others.
Now he is working toward the integral use of the instrument, quality sound,   handling of the dynamics and the work with the rest of the musicians in his   band.
He has played at places such as the North Sea Festival in Holland, Ronnie   Scott’s Club in London, Paradise Club in Amsterdam, Holland; Festival Pinks   Amberes in Copenhagen, Denmark; Montreaux, Switzerland; Fuji Mount Festival,   Japan and Lincoln Center, New York, to mention just a few.
He has shared the stage with great jazz musicians such as Gato Barbieri,   Michel Camilo, Astrid Gilberto, Al Dimeola, Ray Barreto, Tania Maria,   Irakere, John Pattitucci, Tete Monteliu, Charlie Haden, Dizzy Gillespie, Ron   Carter and others.
He has worked for a series of recording companies, including Bluie Note, EMI,   Toshiba, GKM.
He was chosen the Artist of the Year in Japan in 1993 (for a second time in   Japan) and the magazine Jazz Time   (USA) classified him as Best Jazz Piano Performer.
In 1999, his CD “Inner Voyage” obtained the French Art Academy   Awards, and he was nominated for Best Latin Jazz Album in 2002 with his CD   “Supernova”.
Gonzalito has played with Cuban musicians belonging to other Cuban groups.   Síntesis, Orquesta Aragón, Sonido Contemporáneo, Van Van, and singers such as   Pablo Milanés, Beatriz Márquez, Soledad Delgado (deceased) and Ela Calvo have   been accompanied by his undeniable talent at the piano.
Asked about the Cuban music school, he said it is quite ortodox, but it is   one of the best in the world.
“My country, Cuba has made a great effort for education in general, and   particularly, in the solid studies of academic musicians,” he stated. Gonzalito   Rubalcaba studies eight hours a day. He gets up at 8:00 a.m., has a good   breakfast, which he says he enjoys more than the evening meal. Then he   connects with music and studies from 9:00 to a little after noon.
In the afternoons, he writes music, he reads, listens to music. At six, he   jogs and practices some sport. “That helps clear my mind and decide what   direction to take,” he says. “I believe in discipline; the muse   does exist, but the work has to be done. You have to put the mind to work,   have responsibility, love, energy. It is a life that is a little isolated,   but I enjoy it”.
He presently performs about 200 concerts a year, but with three children, he   now wants to find more time to dedicate to his family.

For the original report   go to


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