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Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Inner Voyage

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Cuba seems more and more at the center of America’s musical fascination these days. The Buena Vista Social Club, the well-received film built around Ry Cooder’s adventures, is but the latest example of a popular view of world music that Saul Steinberg would surely have appreciated. Not without reason: Cuba’s contributions to jazz have certainly had a lasting impact. Pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba seems to understand the concept of contribution, and Inner Voyage is his effort to recognize some of those who have contributed to his life and career. This becomes, to an extent, a family album, with three of the pieces being portraits of his three children. These are warm, lyric lines, benefiting from Dad’s light touch and lyric phrasing. Other dedications include “Promenade,” for Ron Carter, with bassist Jeff Chambers filling Ron’s walking shoes as the melody floats above like a barely tethered balloon; and “Blues Lundvall,” bringing Michael Brecker’s tenor sax to bear on a theme for Blue Note’s CEO. Brecker also sits in on the aptly-named “The Hard One,” which also becomes a showcase for drummer Ignacio Berroa, who moves seamlessly between the piece’s kaleidoscopic rhythmic feels.