I went to the opening performances of this year's PDX Jazz Fest 2009, on an auspicious Friday, February 13th, as a winner of our local NPR station_ KLCC's ticket give-away. I was thrilled to go and hear the music, and also because this year was a particularly top-flight jazz event!! I really wanted to go because PDX was host to one of only three WORLD-WIDE performances of the seventieth anniversary of Blue Note Records, who wisely chose to showcase their jazz artists in traveling/performing diplomacy of American music and culture. It feels good to support independent artists and those organizations whose roots are independent in their support of the variety of arts movement in our world.
For those who don't know, Blue Note Record's historical inception came out of a personal passion for jazz starting in Germany! (Check out the link.)
Gonzalo Rubalcaba's musical family background comes directly out of the height of Cuban Mambo/Jazz that really caught fire in this country during the 1940's! Some of Cuba's musical legends were regular guests in the family home where Gonzalo Rubalcaba grew up.
After hearing this concert, it is clear to my ears that he is a musician with jazz flowing in his veins; a solid performer in his own right and truly a noble opener for what was to come later that night!
I like to call the jazz performed by the humble Mr. Rubalcaba and his band, 'impressionistic abstraction.' For me, it is a musical encounter that allows the mind to soar on layers of color while the body rests in a rocking rhythmic understructure. Gonzalo Rubalcaba's piano virtuosity is playful in a thinking manner. Touching down on solid earth as it leaps freely back off again into an acrobatic, grooving, gliding air dance of color impressions! WOW! I will be looking for more of his solo and en groupe musical tracks and performances after this heady night of my very first exposure to jazz with Cuban roots, Rubalcaba-style!
After the performance, I chose to take home their CD titled, Avatar. I refer to Gonzalo Rubalcaba as humble because meeting him in the autograph line after his show, I found his demeanor very much the diplomat. I am still enjoying savoring the night's performance all the more, each time I turn my copy of Avatar on to listen again and again!
More commentary on the performance of Terence Blanchard and his band and the accompaniment of the Portland Jazz Symphony to come, as well as, my separate musical encounter with world renowned performer Evelyn Glennie, (not a BlueNote musician)... stay tuned!