Occasionally I like to take advantage of hindsight and see what appraisal I've given to an album long after the review has run and the disc has had time to remain or reappear (or neither) in my player. What I often find is that a disc I've assessed as “good,” to eschew more loaded and potentially confusing adjectives, doesn't necessarily have the durability and enduring allure one might expect from a “good” disc, even though it could not by any stretch of the malicious imagination be called a “bad” disc. This is because an album can be very strong on the scale that measures technical skill, passion, interpretation and voice, and yet utterly lacking when it comes to adventurousness, vision and daring. Star ratings and Manichean good/bad distinctions should therefore always be put in their proper context, and credit given where it's due.
Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba is, quite simply, one of the intrepid types. He struck me as such the first time I, as a relative newcomer to jazz, saw him perform in a trio at Dmitriou's Jazz Alley in Seattle back in 2000 (he was touring on the back of Inner Voyage then), and that definition of him has been firmly burned into my mind by his subsequent live and studio recordings as leader and sideman, among them Supernova , Charlie Haden's Nocturne , and now Mi Gran Pasion. He usually has at least one foot planted outside the conventional confines of his art. What Rubalcaba attempts on these albums does not always work, but the fact remains that he leaps where others tiptoe.
Gonzalo Rubalcaba (born May 27, 1963 in Havana, Cuba) is one of the most important pianists in jazz today. A prolific virtuoso and composer, he fuses Cuban and American influences into a powerful and innovative hybrid. Known for his command of the keyboard throughout the 1990's, his recent work has shown broader range as Rubalcaba has matured into arguably one of the most important living jazz pianists.