"This is one of the very best recent releases I've heard in the past year. I admire everything from Gonzalo, but some of it's hard work for me. This one is fun, in addition to being impressive. It's got the kind of fire that I loved in Hubbard's best playing. It reminds me in places of the kind of post-bop/hard bop/progressive jazz Herbie Hancock was doing on Blue Note in the 60s and more recently on his live album with Hargrove and Brecker. But to me it sounds even better than that. The rhythms are complex, but the beat is very strong, super funky on some tunes. There's less Cuban nostalgia here, more jazz modernism. And it's great to hear Gonzalo with an excellent horn section. The trumpet player reminds me in places of Hargrove, and the alto player reminds me in places of Garrett. But they do not sound like imitators. Not at all. They sound like masters. If anyone were to ask me for an example of the best that jazz has to offer I'd be happy to offer this one."
starschaser | Boston, MA | 02/25/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Cuban-born pianist/ composer Gonzalo Rubalcaba's follow-up to the Latin jazz Grammy Award-winning "Supernova" finds him working in a quintet setting with Marcus Gilmore, Matt Brewer, Yosvany Terry and Mike Rodriguez. These seven tunes share an impressionistic vibe within frameworks that suggest a good deal of improvisational latitude. "Peace" is a sustained meditation between Rubalcaba and Brewer (acoustic bass) that soothes the ear and hooks the imagination in a most appealing fashion. "This Is It", at 12 minutes-plus, unfolds at a moderate tempo while affording the ensemble a vehicle for solos that offer a terrific variety of sonic textures. Rubalcaba has gone more post-modern than Latin with "Avatar," and it's a praiseworthy project". --Philip Van Vleck A former boy wonder from Cuba, originally billed as "Gonzalito", Rubalcaba is now in his early forties, working in New York and in full flower as a jazz pianist. For Gonzalo Rubalcaba, making a new album is often fraught with difficulties. The process helped inspire the title of this album, "Avatar" (Blue Note), which according to Hindu religion, is the embodiment of a spiritual idea or force. On "Avatar," Rubalcaba assembled four collaborators who are all part of the New York jazz scene, which adds a certain urban feel. Fellow Cuban emigre Yosvany Terry contributed three compositions to an album that looks, feels and sounds very much like a Rubalcaba project, even though he's only credited with writing one piece. The compositions on "Avatar" are as dynamic and subtly layered as any of Rubalcaba's work. His interaction with Rodríguez and Terry on the saxophonist's compositions "Looking in Retrospective", "Hip Side" and "This Is It" recapture the excitement of hard bop while sounding like something almost entirely new. Whereas his exotic keyboard wizardry once bored listeners, pensive ballad performances (as in "Aspiring to Normalcy", by his bassist Matt Brewer, and "Peace", by Horace Silver) on this outstanding new album show that technique is now his servant rather than master. And the quintet he leads is top-class. Enjoy. Supernova Mi Sueño Zamazu Cymbals "
One of the most exiting records I have heard in a long time
Audun Berg | Trondheim, Norway | 02/13/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I do not have much to add to the first review - the record is terrific. The music is very exiting, very unpredictible in the compositions, and with so much beautiful details left for the listener to discover during repeated listenings. You have to listen very closely to Gonzalos playing - much of the beauty of his sound lies in the almost muted details he does in between.
Go a get it!!"
J. A. Schwager | Left Coast USA | 05/06/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ganzalo is a formidable pianist and first rate artist to my ears. He works in that higher place also familiar to Brad Mehldau, Keith Jarrett, and many others who enter the meta space where cause and effect create instantaneous change in consciousness with both players and listeners. Wiggy but true."
GONZALVO RUBALCABAs QUARTET SHINES
K. Prousalis | drama GREECE | 04/27/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The most impressive factor in AVATAR is the superb playing from all the young musicians ,pianist GONZALVO RUBALCABA uses here .Special mention to bassist MATT BREWER and drummer MARCUS GILLMORE promising much more in the future.A very interesting MODERN JAZZ recording ,full of energy rythm ,strength, and robustness ."