Jazz masters pay homage to their Latin roots

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Jazz masters pay homage to their Latin roots

If there is one thing Gonzalo Rubalcaba desires, it is wider recognition of the depth of the music of his homeland, Cuba. If there is another, it is deeper respect for Latin musicians.
In a review about this renowned jazz pianist on “52nd St,” an Internet site devoted to jazz, Don Williamson writes, “Each of [Rubalcaba’s] seven Blue Note albums has made even greater claims and laid out even more expansive landscapes by which he makes his point: that Cuban music possesses a heritage as multivarious as many of the other music from the world’s cultures.”
First and foremost, Mr. Rubalcaba is a jazz pianist, but the texture of his music is laced with Afro-Cuban rhythms and influences. Songs like “Oren” refer to a tradition among Cuba’s African settlers calling upon the spirits.
Rubalcaba is returning to Korea for a performance at 8 p.m. on Sunday at the Seoul Arts Center, playing with the David Sanchez Quartet. The last time Rubalcaba was in Korea, March 2002, he took the stage with bassist Charlie Haden for a sold-out show.
This year some of the world’s top jazz artists have performed in Korea, including Herbie Hancock and Roy Hargrove, whose performances range from bee bop to fusion. The groups The Brand New Heavies, 100 Gold Fingers and The Square take different approaches to jazz. The Brand New Heavies, from the United Kingdom, bring funk to acid jazz, 100 Gold Fingers revolves around 10 pianists, mostly from the United States, and The Square is a Japanese fusion band.
Rubalcaba is creating a musical language that the Europe Jazz Network has called “hemispheric in its scope and heroic in its conception.” Mr. Rubalcaba draws from not only the music of his country, but also his family influence. His father, Guillermo Rubalcaba, was a pianist and his grandfather, Jacobo Rubalcaba, was a composer of danzon, a popular Cuban dance form that starts slowly and gradually accelerates. But while Gonzalo Rubalcaba includes Afro-Cuban rhythms in his textures, in the end, it is the unity of music that drives him, he once said.
The quartet sharing the stage with Rubalcaba this weekend is fronted by another Latin musician, David Sanchez, one of today’s leading jazz saxophonists, draws from the folkloric roots of his native Puerto Rico. He played with Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nation Orchestra in the early 1990s. In an interview on Metroactive.com Sanchez said about his album “Travesia,” that “We added different folkloric instruments like the cajon (wood box drum) and use the bomba and plena rhythms, but with a different sonic approach that’s more subtle. What we are doing is a jazz interpretation of these traditional rhythms.”

by Joe Young-hee

For more information, call (02) 548-4480, or visit the Web at www.seoularts.com.
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