Gonzalo Rubalcaba: All the Things You Are


All the Things You Are



Discovery: Live at Montreux (Blue Note 95478)

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Gonzalo Rubalcaba (piano), Charlie Haden (bass), Paul Motian (drums).

Composed by Jerome Kern


Recorded: live at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland, July 15, 1990


Rating: 98/100 (learn more)

Rubalcaba's appearances with Haden and Motian at the 1989 Montreal Jazz Festival and the 1990 Montreux Jazz Festival—the latter where this track was recorded—were instrumental in creating a huge buzz regarding the young Cuban pianist's virtuoso talent. This warranted hype grew despite the fact that it would be several more years before he would be allowed to enter the United States to perform, due to State Department restrictions. That Rubalcaba was the real deal early on is clearly evident on this kaleidoscopic 11-minute treatment of "All the Things You Are," the reliable warhorse that has served to test and measure countless jazz musicians over the years. Rubalcaba brings to bear his early classical training, as well as his exposure to Afro-Cuban music and jazz influences such as Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea.

The pianist starts with a contemplative solo exploration of the melody's familiar harmonies, but quickly ups the tempo as he's joined by Haden and Motian. Forceful chords, propulsive rhythmic variations, convoluted gliding runs, and hurtling two-handed unison passges are among the many treats Rubalcaba offers the audience at Montreux. Haden and Motian admirably manage to keep up with him, but seem merely along for the ride. The bassist does get a chance to solo fervently about five minutes in, obviously inspired by Rubalcaba's verve. Motian succeeds him with a characteristically loose and unpredictable improvisation. Rubalcaba picks up where he left off for the final three minutes, at first racing cogently through the changes before a somewhat more subdued, but ultimately rhapsodic winding-down. A star is born.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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