Cuban composer and pianist Gonzalez Rubalcaba, performed in Russia what he considers to be essential standards of continental American jazz.
As a guest artist at the illustrious Koktebel Jazz Party, Rubalcaba and his Volcan band -- formed only two years ago – were the Festival’s closing act.
In comments made exclusively to the Havana Reporter, the musician said that without becoming blind to the music of today, his idea was to highlight what continue to be some important cultural references that composers from “our America” have created and that still inspire younger generations.
Volcan’s program included pieces by, amongst others, Cuban, Brazilian and U.S. composers and the concert on a beach in Crimea featured in addition to those of Rubalcaba himself, interpretations of works by the Brazilian Chico Buarque and the Cuban Chucho Valdez.
He said he wanted to illustrate the most contemporary elements of numbers that have been around for three or four decades and are still worthy of worldwide diffusion.
The pianist and his group brought the Koktebel Jazz Party public to their feet with their Cuban and Latin tinted tones.
The more than 1,000 seat auditorium had remained still until Volcan erupted with a fusion of son, timba, contradanza, danzón and African rhythms with American roots, dating back to colonial times.
Nobody could stay in their seat. Some danced to their hearts delight whilst others simply ran to the front of the stage to shout their approval and holler for more. Not wanting the show to end, the audience clamored for an encore so the group came back to play again, to greet the people and to prolong the improvisations that culminated with the drummer tossing his sticks into the crowd.
In addition to the double Latin Grammy virtuoso and director of Volcán Rubalcaba, the band was joined by the Cubans Horacio “El Negro” Hernández on drums and Armando Gola on guitar and Puerto Rican percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo.
Each received individual rounds of applause for the ingenuity and agility of their improvisations during an almost hour long performance to a euphoric public still craving more, that led to the obvious conclusion that Latin jazz is a firm favorite in this part of the world.
Rubalcaba is considered to be one of the leading figures of Afro-Cuban jazz and „par excelence“ performers, proof of which was his simultaneous playing of two pianos at the Russian festival, although he sees this as a necessity for his current smaller sized band.
He commented that when he began with Volcán, he took up the skill of playing an electronic piano at the same time as playing a traditional piano because thanks to the technology available, it produced a new acoustic aesthetic.
The band leader added that it also expands the range of the quartet that, comprising himself, two percussionists and a bass player, only has the melodic element of the piano.
The maestro is enthused by a recent proposal for Volcán to perform during the next Cuban International Jazz Festival and is striving to adjust his schedule to oblige. His return to a Cuban stage is an exciting prospect.Share on FB Share on TT