Sometime after the success of his Grammy-winning 2001 album, Supernova, the then-39-year-old Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba decided to put an end to almost twenty years of nearly frenetic recording activity in order to establish a pace that allows for deeper musical meditations. Now, after a three-year hiatus, he has returned with his latest collection appropriately titled Paseo.
Paseo, a Spanish word for "stroll," is in part a repassage through musical territory that the pianist considers deserving of further exploration. In the company of what he calls his "new Cuban quartet," which includes saxophonist Luis Felipe Lamoglia, bassist Jos Armando Gola, and drummer Ignacio Berroa, Rubalcaba revisits four previously recorded compositions and offers his listeners challenging new material, including a tribute to Cuban composer Hilario Gonzàlez, filled with ultra-modern sensibilities and intricate musical dialogues. Rubalcaba sets aside, for the most part, the introspective and meditative approach that has characterized many of his recent concert appearances in order to delve deep into the possibilities of his chosen repertoire. The material is highly conceptualized and its performance is marked by solid thrusts of energy.
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Paseo is the first recorded work in what appears to be a new period in the career of Gonzalo Rubalcaba. If the pianist continues in the vein that has produced this project, we can expect surprises even more revealing and rewarding in a future hopefully less than three years away.