The multi-Grammy© Winner, pianist and composer Gonzalo Rubalcaba was already a young phenom with a budding career in his native Cuba when he was discovered by Dizzy Gillespie in 1985. Since, Piano & Keyboard Magazine selected him in 1999 as one of the great pianists of the 20th century, alongside figures such as Glenn Gould, Martha Argerich and Bill Evans; won two Grammys and two Latin Grammys, and established himself as a creative force in the jazz world.
He was born on May 27, 1963 in a musical family in Havana. His father, pianist, composer and bandleader Guillermo Rubalcaba, had also played in the orchestra of Enrique Jorrín, the creator of cha-cha-cha; his grandfather Jacobo Rubalcaba, was the composer of classic danzones, and his two brothers are also musicians. Gonzalo, a child prodigy who by the age of 6 was playing drums in his father’s orchestra, started his formal training two years later, with piano as his main instrument to, as he once recalled, “just to please my mother.” He graduated from the Institute of Fine Arts in Havana with a degree in composition and by his mid–teens he was working as both, drummer and pianist, in the hotels, concert halls and jazz clubs of Havana. Following graduation he stepped right into the life of the popular musician, touring Cuba, Europe, Africa and Asia with the fabled Orquesta Aragón and also as a sideman in jazz groups and, beginning in 1984, leading his own Afro-Cuban jazz rock fusion band, Grupo Proyecto.
The encounters with Gillespie and, in 1986, with Charlie Haden and then Blue Note Records president, Bruce Lundvall, set the stage to finally showcase Rubalcaba ́s talent before jazz audiences in the United States. These years are documented in a series of recordings in Havana and Frankfurt, Germany, including three superb recordings with his Cuban Quartet on the German label Messidor : Mi Gran Pasión (1987), Live in Havana (1989) and Giraldilla (1990). Rubalcaba moved to the Dominican Republic in 1991 and settled in Miami in 1996.
His international recording career, which includes titles such as Discovery – Live at Montreux, Images–Live at Mt. Fuji, The Blessing, Suite 4 y 20, Rapsodia, Diz and Imagine – Gonzalo Rubalcaba in the USA, has garnered him 16 nominations including both Grammys and Latin Grammys. He won Grammys for Nocturne (2001) and Land of the Sun (2004), two collections of Latin ballads and boleros recorded with bassist Charlie Haden; and Latin Grammys for Solo(2006) and Supernova (2002).
In 2010, Rubalcaba and businessman Gary Galimidi, founded 5Passion Records and since, the label has not only released Rubalcaba’s latest recordings such as Fe (2011), XXI (2012), Volcan (2014), Live Faith (2015), the Latin Grammy nominated Suite Caminos (2015) and Charlie (2016), but also album by artists such as Will Vinson, Ignacio Berroa, Yosvany Terry and many more. In addition to 5Passion, Gonzalo joined the "Top Stop Music" record label family in 2020 to record/release the Grammy-nominated Viento y Tiempo live at Blue Note Tokyo with the great singer Aymée Nuviola. Reflecting his interest in music education, Rubalcaba joined the faculty of the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music in 2015. In 2020, he founded his own academy Rubalcademy, offering remote Masterclasses to musicians across the world.
This same year, his independent Record label 5Passion Records was restructured in partnership with the businessman Ariel López, and released the album SKYLINE, a reunion of old friends Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette. Gonzalo Rubalcaba's most recent nomination with singer, pop and soul music composer Jon Secada with the album "SOLOS" was for the 2021 Latin Grammys Awards, under the Oleta Music record label.
1991: ”PALMAR D’OR” of the Music Academy in Paris, France
1991: “BEST INSTRUMENTALIST AND KEYS” of the City holder in Lugano, Switzerland.
1992: “BEST PERFORMER AWARD “for his album “SUITE 4 Y 20”, from The Art Critics Association in Japan.
1993: "BEST PERFORMER AWARD” for his album “RAPSODIA”, from The Art Critics Association in Japan
2001: National Academy of Recording Art & Sciences “GRAMMY®” to Gonzalo Rubalcaba a Producer. “BEST LATIN JAZZ ALBUN”- “NOCTURNE” (Charlie Haden)
2001: In Recognition of his extraordinary contributions to Jazz, the LEADERS CIRCLE OF THE SAN FRANCISCO JAZZ FESTIVAL ORGANIZATION hereby proclaims Gonzalo Rubalcaba “2001 LEADER CIRCLE LAUREATE”
2002: Latin Academy of Recording Art & Sciences “LATIN GRAMMY®” to Gonzalo Rubalcaba Trio “MEJOR INTERPRETACION JAZZ” “SUPERNOVA”
2004: National Academy of Recording Art & Sciences “GRAMMY®” to Gonzalo Rubalcaba Producer. BEST LATIN JAZZ ALBUM” – “LAND OF THE SUN” (Charlie Haden)
2006: Latin Academy of Recording Art & Sciences “LATIN GRAMMY®” to Gonzalo Rubalcaba Artista y Productor, “MEJOR ALBUM DE JAZZ LATINO” – “SOLO”
2007: “LATIN PRIDE NATIONAL AWARD” to Gonzalo Rubalcaba, “PREMIO A LA EXCELENCIA”
2008: The ASCAP Foundation “VANGUARD AWARD” to Composer and Pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba whose Innovative a Distinctive Music Is Charting New Directions in Jazz.
2009: Critic’s Choices at Amazon.com JAZZ ALBUM OF THE YEAR 2009” NUMBER 1 GONZALO RUBALCABA – AVATAR” TOP 10 Best Jazz Albums
2011: GOLD AWARD UNIVERSAL MUSIC present to Gonzalo Rubalcaba for the sales of the Album POLANNA.
(Anna Maria Jopek)
2015: “47 Festival Internacional de Jazz de Barcelona” a Gonzalo Rubalcaba con Admiracion y en reconocimiento a su obra.
2016: “Edison Jazz/World 2016” – Jazz International to Charlie Haden and Gonzalo Rubalcaba for “Tokyo Adagio”
2017: “Vibrant@10”- Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami to Gonzalo Rubalcaba for “Oh Vida” best Performing Commissioner.
2017: GOLD AWARD UNIVERSAL MUSIC present to Gonzalo Rubalcaba for the sales of the Album “MINIONE”. (Anna Maria Jopek and Gonzalo Rubalcaba)
2017: PLATINUM AWARD UNIVERSAL MUSIC present to Gonzalo Rubalcaba for the sales of the Album “MINIONE”. (Anna Maria Jopek and Gonzalo Rubalcaba)
2018: EMPIK BESTSELLERS – “Minione” – Third Place – Best-selling albums of 2017
1995: “RAPSODIA”- Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Individual or Group
1997: “AGUA DE BEBER” – Best Jazz Instrumental Solo
2001: “ANTIGUO” – Best Latin Jazz Performance
2001: “INNER VOYAGE” – Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Individual or Grup.
2002: “SUPERNOVA” – Best Latin Jazz Album
2002: “NOCTURNO” – Best Latin Album (Charlie Haden) Gonzalo Rubalcaba Producer
2002: “EN LA ORILLA DEL MUNDO” – Best Instrumental Arrangement
2002: “OREN” – Best Instrumental Composition
2004: “LAND OF THE SUN” – Best Latin Jazz Album (Charlie Haden) Gonzalo Rubalcaba Producer
2015: “SUITE CAMINOS” – Best Latin Jazz Album
2019: “VIENTO Y TIEMPO" - LIVE AT BLUE NOTE TOKYO" - Best Latin Jazz Album
LATIN GRAMMY NOMINATIONS:
2002: “SUPERNOVA” – Mejor Interpretacion de Jazz
2005: “PASEO” – Mejor Album de Jazz Latino
2006: “SOLO” – Mejor Album de Jazz Latino
2007: “CON EL PERMISO DE BOLA” – Mejor Album Tropical Tradicional (Francisco Cespedes)
2008: “AVATAR” – Mejor Album Instrumental
2021 - "SOLOS" - Mejor Album Tropical Tradicional
2017: “MINIONE” – Best-selling album of 2017
Sir Simon Rattle has called the Cuban jazz pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba… “the most gifted pianist on the planet”.
Dizzy Gillespie’s remarks (1985) on first hearing Gonzalo “…the greatest pianist I’ve heard in the last 10 years”.
Charlie Haden once remarked… “Gonzalo is the master of musical structures, he is a smart heart”.
Ben Ratliff, The New York Times “… Meticulous Jazzman of the World”.
Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune “… Gonzalo Rubalcaba ranks among the most accomplished jazz pianists in the world today and perhaps stands at the top of that elite group, thanks to a colossal technique and an unfettered musical imagination”.
Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune“… Rubalcaba’s pianism is something of a quasi-classical recital, Rubalcaba draws as much from his classic idioms as his jazz lexicon, eradicating barriers between the two, albeit in decidedly contemporary terms. Only a pianist with Rubalcaba’s footing in both classical and jazz orthodoxies could have pulled it off”.