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Discovery: Live At Montreux (1990)

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Gonzalo Rubalcaba

One of the most exciting major-label debuts during the 1990s was Gonzalo Rubalcaba's Discovery, a trio date at the 1990 Montreux Jazz Festival with bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Paul Motian. Haden had discovered the young pianist during an appearance in Cuba several years earlier and was surprised at his level of development considering his extremely limited access to hearing jazz greats on record or in person. Rubalcaba's spellbinding take of Thelonious Monk's "Well You Needn't" only begins to hint at his virtuosity; in an up-tempo setting he segues from bop into Latin with flashes of the avant-garde in a breathtaking performance. The young man also contributed the lovely ballad "Velas," the alternately intense and playful piano solo "Prologo Comienzo," as well as a captivating tribute to his young son, "Joao." Both Haden and Motian provide strong support for Rubalcaba, who didn't just rest on the laurels of this highly recommended CD but followed up with several more top-notch CDs for Blue Note during the remainder of the decade. ~ Ken Dryden