Gonzalo Rubalcaba’s trio find this sweet spot on ‘Skyline’

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DAVE DAVIES, HTE:

It’s FRESH AIR. When Cuban piano genius Gonzalo Rubalcaba started working with American jazz greats like drummer Jack DeJohnette or bassist Ron Carter in the 1990s, it took a bit of time to settle in. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says a new All-Star Trio album shows just how good Rubalcaba is. and his old heroes are ringing these days.

(EXTRACT FROM “AHMAD THE TERRIBLE” BY JACK DEJOHNETTE)

KEVIN WHITEHEAD, BYLINE: Gonzalo Rubalcaba on drummer Jack DeJohnette’s song “Ahmad The terrible”. It’s taken from their album “Skyline”, with bassist Ron Carter, a laid back and pretty cool co-op date. When the Cuban pianist was new to the United States, his technique could take over him. Today he is calming down, trusting more in the open space, small gestures and conversational interaction. It still has a lot of punch, but can lag behind to let the bass and drums drag it along. Together, the trio find this perfect place to swing.

(EXTRACT BY RON CARTER, JACK DEJOHNETTE AND “GYPSY” BY GONZALO RUBALCABA)

WHITEHEAD: It’s from Ron Carter’s composition, “Gypsy”. Besides two of his own tunes, Gonzalo Rubalcaba brought in some Cuban favorites like the 1920s hit “Lagrimas Negras” – “Black Tears” – played with an Afro-Cuban bolero beat. Jack DeJohnette disengages the snares from his snare for a brighter, more open tone, alluding to the sound of Cuban timpani.

(EXTRACT FROM RON CARTER, JACK DEJOHNETTE AND “LAGRIMAS NEGRAS” FROM GONZALO RUBALCABA “)

WHITEHEAD: Bassist Ron Carter is widely revered, despite occasional growls from some quarters about a capricious intonation and a rubbery, amplified sound. Her champions hail her impeccably swinging groove amply displayed on “Skyline,” a Carter album even skeptics might love. You can hear how its rubbery sound allows for its elastic beating. It’s taken from Gonzalo Rubalcaba’s “Promenade”.

(EXTRACT FROM THE “PROMENADE” BY RON CARTER, JACK DEJOHNETTE AND GONZALO RUBALCABA)

WHITEHEAD: This informal session with Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette was Gonzalo Rubalcaba’s idea. And it’s on its label. But the pianist wanted a real cooperative meeting, with everyone bringing tunes and nobody in charge. Rubalcaba even ranks last on the cover in alphabetical order. What you get on “Skyline” are three great masters enjoying each other’s company, with us listeners as lucky prying eyes.

(EXTRACT BY RON CARTER, JACK DEJOHNETTE AND “RONJACKRUBA DE GONZALO RUBALCABA”)

DAVIES: Kevin Whitehead is the author of the book “Play The Way You Feel: The Essential Guide To Jazz Stories On The Film”. And he reviewed “Skyline”, the new album by Ron Carter, Jack DeJohnette and Gonzalo Rubalcaba.

On tomorrow’s show, what do we know so far about the efforts of Donald Trump and the people in his so-called war room to overturn the election results? – and what they did to energize the people who stormed the Capitol on January 6. We will talk with Robert Costa, co-author with Bob Woodward of the new bestseller “Peril”. Hope you can join us. FRESH AIR executive producer is Danny Miller. Our technical director and engineer is Audrey Bentham. Our interviews and reviews are produced and edited by Amy Salit, Phyllis Myers, Sam Briger, Lauren Krenzel, Heidi Saman, Therese Madden, Ann Marie Baldonado, Thea Chaloner, Seth Kelley and Kayla Lattimore. Our digital media producer is Molly Seavy-Nesper. Roberta Shorrock directs the show. For Terry Gross, I am Dave Davies.

(EXCERPT BY RON CARTER, JACK DEJOHNETTE AND “RONJACKRUBA DE GONZALO RUBALCABA”) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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