Turning Point of Art: Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Having spent his 35 years-long career gloriously, very productively, pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba recorded another exquisite recording with Matt Brewer and Eric Harland, two great musicians of the highest caliber of their generation, after the Grammy-winning Skyline he recorded with two legends Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette last year. If you ask me, this album is likely to receive Grammy nomination next year and very likely would win again. Especially the improvised solos are the kind that will showcase Rubalcaba’s flamboyant style. Rubalcaba’s piano style is characteristic and distinct, but the variety of productions is one that will never repeat one another. He has a consciousness that he always regards the best work he produces as his next one.

Turning Point was recorded in Miami in 2018, a month after Skyline was recorded. The album took its place on digital platforms on August 23. Rubalcaba recorded Blue Note in the 1990s with names like Carter, DeJohnette, Charlie Haden, John Patitucci and Paul Motian, to name a few. We know that these recordings, some of which are live, are fiery trio recordings that Rubalcaba and his accompanists set up at an extremely high tempo and with unique improvisations. Turning Point is one of those albums that contains almost as much heat and commitment to jazz as these albums.

Although this is the first time the trio is coming together for this album, Brewer and Harland previously worked on separate projects with Rubalcaba. Brewer played in 5 albums with Rubalcaba. On the other hand, Harland met Rubalcaba for the first time in 2007 for the Monterey All Stars project that also included Chris Potter and Dave Holland. For Turning Point, Harland’s modern drumming style was exactly what Rubalcaba was looking for. Harland’s first acquaintance with music was the piano, and when Rubalcaba’s first acquaintance with music was percussion, they had the opportunity to establish a different bond between them. They were able to establish the harmony better and put the piano-drum relationship on more accurate foundations.

Rubalcaba takes part in the album as a composer and producer. In 7 compositions, we witness the moments when classical jazz elements converge towards Afro-Cuban style without slipping off their axis. Pay attention to how Rubalcaba’s touch has changed, matured, and become solemn, especially in the re-work of The Hard One, decorated with Michael Brecker’s exquisite improvisations in the 1998 recording Inner Voyage.

If my sixth sense doesn’t fail me, I feel that the musical language of this recording is somehow emotionally connected with Chick Corea’s trio recordings.

As a result, Turning Point/Trio D’ete is another Gonzalo Rubalcaba album that is about to become a classic with its modern sound, innovative attitude and strict adherence to its jazz roots.

Don’t miss the opportunity to witness Rubalcaba’s presence in 32nd Akbank Caz Festival. He’s going to accompany one of the living legends of Latin Jazz, La Sonera del Mundo, Aymee Nuviola. For more please read DBN’s feature for the couple’s last album, Live in Marciac here.

Burak Sülünbaz

Co-Founder, Jazz Writer // Kurucu Ortak, Caz Yazarı

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