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Gonzalo Rubalcaba Cuban Quartet: Antiguo

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The problem with hype is that it raises your expectations too damn high.

Take Cuban pianist/composer Gonzalo Rubalcaba. Big-upped by Charlie Haden, world tours, five-star reviews. After the hype, albums and gigs, I still wasn’t feeling him. Gonzalo’s new CD, Antiguo, has flipped my script. An epically sprawling spirit-cosmic convergence of Afro-Cuban dance rhythms, Santeria ritual, ’70s fusion, blues, and jazz, Antiguo is his long awaited, hype-promised masterpiece tracks composed/arranged/produced by Rubalcaba, shaded by his Cuban trio (Julio Barreto, drums; Felipe Cabrera, bass; Reynaldo Melian, trumpet), rainbow-ized by chanters, singers, blowers, and drummers, Antiguo rules. Whether living Weather Report’s Amazon rain forest dreams to the fullest (“Circuito III”), praying and exalting the Orishas (“Ellioko” features Papa Lazaro Ros) or funky freestyling Arsenio Rodriguez (“Eshun Agwe”), Antiguo’s cerebral and emotional vision is genius. This time hype is Truth. (Note to self: You were way wrong.)