Personnel: Rubalcaba, piano
Vibe: introspective, majestic
Appeal: fans of Jarrett, Mehldau, and modern classical
It's hard to imagine someone playing as much piano as Rubalcaba. Yet with a performance this extraordinary, why bother? Simply titled "Solo", Rubalcaba presents a stunning 55 minute compilation of various solo studio performances made over the years. The repertoire ranges from solemn to more solemn, then a little peppy and back to solemn. But I like sad piano music, especially when it has the fire that Rubalcaba brings to the instrument.
Weaved into the recital are four solo improvisations, all based on Giant Steps. The rest is a mix of old and new material. "Quasar" probably sums up the CD best. At once a pyrotechnical and thunderous two-handed assault, he also demonstrates a profound awareness of space and dynamics. This ability to undulate like a yo-yo peacefully unwinding only to retract suddenly is what makes his playing so engrossing.
RATING: Best in Genre (solo piano)