Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Straight Ahead

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Part of the Bele Belle Jazz Club series, this collection of three Gonzalo Rubalcaba sessions from 1986 and 1987 finds the pianist in three different settings: electric septet, trio, and solo. The two electric septet session are great in so far as they showcase Rubalcaba's gloriously extended harmonic style with a group., but the electric bass and synths on these two cuts sound just awful. The trio accounts for one selection, and it is full of the fluid, high melodic style Rubalcaba is known for with a rhythm section. It is on the solo cuts where Rubalcaba's now-trademark rhythmic invention is showcased brilliantly; his use of space, and dynamic and harmonic invention, is singular here, playing the jazz tradition against the folk music of his native Cuba on eight selections. It is for these -- with their deep lyricism, and contrapuntal engagements -- that the album is worth the price.

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