Gonzalo Rubalcaba born 47 years ago in post-revolutionary Havana he absorbed culture as well as the traditional and folkloric Cuban forms of song and dance from his early environment. His father (pianist and composer) and two brothers (pianist and bassist), and in family gatherings American jazz, world classical music plus the local sounds made up the entertainment.
Despite the diversity of this background Gonzalo’s formal training was entirely classical, and he graduated from the Institute of Fine Arts in Havana with a degree in musical composition. On the other hand from his mid-teens he was working as a drummer and pianist in the city’s hotels, dance halls jazz clubs. Following graduation he stepped right into the life of the popular musician, touring Cuba, Europe, Africa and Asia with jazz group, first as a sideman, then, in 1984,with his own Grupo Proyecto. These years are documented in a series of recordings by EGREM Studios of Havana and Messidor Studios of Frankfurt, Germany. Three superb recordings with his Cuban Quartet on the latter label include “Mi Gran Pasion”, “Live in Havana”, and “Giraldilla.”
During 1988 and 1993 Mr. Rubalcaba wrote music for Ballet “Pas de Deux / Lourdes Ramirez” ,“Panorama de la Musica”/Victor Cuellar and music for movies “Letters from the Park”/Tomas Gutierrez Alea, “Confessing to Laura”/Jaime Osorio Gomez.
Meanwhile, encounters in Havana with Dizzy Gillespie (1985), Charlie Haden and Blue Note Record’s president, Bruce Lundvall (1986), eventually led the Rubalcabas to move to Dominican Republic in 1991, and the Miami in 1996. He began an international recoding career with a series of recordings for Toshiba/EMI and Blue Note Records which has resulted in fifteen Grammy nominations and four trophies over the last fourteen years.
Among the Mr. Rubalcaba’s recorded works on CD include his own “Discovery –Live at Montreaux”, “Images- Live at Mt.Fuji”, The Blessing”, “Suite 4y20”, “RApsodia”, Diz”, “Imagine –Live in the USA”, Antiguo”, The TRIO”, “Flying Color”, Inner Voyage”, Supernova”, “Paseo”, “Gonzalo Rubalcaba SOLO”, which among them have earned two Latin Grammy awards; two collections of Latin ballads and boleros recorded with renowned bassist Charlie Haden,”Nocturne” and “Land of the Sun” which both garnered Grammy wins. And also “Con el Permiso de Bola” , a soulful compilation of the songs of Cuban songwrite BOLA DE NIEVE with singer Pancho Cespedes, which has won widespread praise including a Latin Grammy nomination.
Gonzalo continues to tour world-wide, with concert engagements showcasing his work as a solo pianist, with small jazz groups, chamber and full symphonic orchestra settings. His active repertoire has expanded from “straight-ahead”, bop and Afro-Cuban jazz to traditional ballades and boleros of Cuban and Mexico, and now beyond that even into the world of Cuban classical works.
In addition to four Grammys Awards Mr. Rubalcaba has been awarded with the Palmar D’Or of the Music Academy in Paris( 1991), Best Instrumentalist and Keys of the City holder in Lugano, Switzerland(1991), Best Performer Award (1991 and 1993), for his albums “Suite 4y20” and “Rapsodia” from the Art Critics Association in Japan-given to the same artist twice in a row for the first time . In Recognition of his extraordinary contributions to jazz, the Leaders Circle of the San Francisco Jazz Organization hereby proclaims Gonzalo Rubalcaba “2001 Leaders Circle Laureate”. The ASCAP Foundation, (2008) “ Vanguard Award” for Composer and Pianist, whose innovative an distinctive music is charting new directions in jazz.
Mr. Rubalcaba’s art continues to evolve and will continue to draw inspiration from his Afro-Cuban heritage. February 5,2009 Blue Note Record released his latest album “Avatar” which is a collection inspired originals with contributions from his young and talented New Quintet.