GONZALO RUBALCABA ON THE CUISINE OF CUBAN JAZZ

As part of the annual Baku Jazz Festival, charismatic and talented cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba gave a concert.

Gonzalo Rubalcaba

The purpose of my creative work is to search for forms, harmony and rhythm, which include and clearly illustrate the tiniest nuances of Cuban culture, says the musician.

I was lucky to be born in a big and close-knit family, where deep musical traditions of my homeland have always been well-known and respected. I can say the same about the world music culture. Don’t get me wrong, it was not just ethnic Cuban music that my family knew well. That was not anything special. My relatives understood well what good music is. It did not matter to us where and when it was written. My grandfather, my father, my brothers and uncles were all interested in the arts. So I have felt this magical creativity spirit since I was young. Perhaps this is why I became a musician Gonzalo RubalcabaThe house of my father, Guillermo Rubalcaba, used to be frequently visited by famous Cuban musicians, for example Frank Emilio and Felipe Dulzaides. They were crazy about American jazz, especially from what was happening in the States in the 1940–60s. Records of Bird, Dizzy Gillespie and Art Blakey were always played in our house. My father loved spending hours arguing about contemporary jazz traditions: bebop, cool jazz and especially about who was a cooler pianist, Monk or Powell. I would stick around, catch every word and take good note of it.

At that glorious time, when I was not older than ten, I loved drumming. At first, even after entering the Manuel Saumell Conservatory, I would learn to play the piano and the percussions at the same time. But then there came a time when I had to choose what I liked better. I remembered what the records of Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell and Oscar Peterson meant to me, and I chose the piano.

Gonzalo Rubalcaba

I am firmly convinced that an artist possesses a unique talent: he or she can see things in all dimensions and at the same time, understand their true meaning. Even the smallest and seemingly insignificant details of the outside world he or she can present in an unprecedented way. And day after day, this keeps on going.

Gonzalo Rubalcaba
He or she can not only see them, but can also tell others about it. You know, creativity is the ability to imagine, assign things new organization while keeping their meeting and harmony with each other.

The purpose of my creative work is to search for forms, harmony and rhythm, which include and clearly illustrate the tiniest nuances of Cuban culture.

I want the listener to understand where our music began and what it has come to. In the Caribbean cuisine, there is something called cocina criolla, where there are many ingredients, as well as various spices. By mixing traditions and modernity, by playing with genres and rhythmic moves, I pretty much do the same thing in music. Of course, I have to do so within a certain ethnic framework, but I do it such that the race, the national pride and the character do not become obstacles in understanding music. On the contrary, unique ethnic traits enable us to understand each other better.

Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Why are people so entertained by music? Imagine listening to something, and suddenly you experience a real explosion deep inside. Everything turns upside down and you feel torn in pieces. The miracle of music is in that it is not the end at all, but the opposite: it is enlightenment, it is rebirth, it is a miraculous life outside of space and time.

Gonzalo Rubalcaba

For me the future is what I am doing now. I guess as long as I have energy, my unap-peasable desire to explore the world and discover its hidden laws is going to persist. The future picks you up and carries you away like a river, and here we are unable to change anything. Although… Based on our personal understanding of things, we must simply choose the right river.

Do not pay attention to what musicians say about themselves. Believe only what their music says.

Gonzalo Rubalcaba