On Fé, Gonzalo Rubalcaba’s debut for his new label, 5Passion, the Cuban pianist and composer once again bridges the worlds of jazz, classical and Afro-Cuban music, delivering a stunning collection with dexterity, passion and spirit. Faith (the title translated) is the underlying impetus for this album, notes the artist, as are tolerance and inclusiveness.
With reverence to Oshun, the Yoruban Orisha of love and beauty, Rubalcaba performs a deeply meditative “Maferefun Iya Lodde Me,” highlighting its deep-rooted spirituality. “Derivado 1,” “Derivado 2” and “Derivado 3” emerge from this piece: the first a terse prelude, the second atmospheric and spacious, and the third, beautifully lyrical, closes the album. Rubalcaba’s tributes to John Coltrane, the virtuosic “Improvisation 1” and “Improvisation 2,” are based on “Giant Steps” chord changes, and two interpretations of “Blue in Green” and two of “Con Alma” explore these memorable melodies through alternate tempos and temperaments. Rubalcaba’s own pieces display his compositional strength and creativity: The contrapuntal “Oro” captures the rhythmic complexity of the batá drums, while the multi-sectioned “Joan” navigates various genres and tones. Rubalcaba’s meticulous efforts are apparent, from the choice and performance of the material to the impeccable sound and beautiful package.