Grammy-winning pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba offers his distinctive take on 12 standards and popular songs on his latest album Borrowed Roses.
The new recording is Rubalcaba’s third solo piano album, and his first devoted entirely to the Great American Songbook.
The idea for the album was first conceived in 2019, but it was put on hold due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, Rubalcaba recorded and released material on his own record label 5Passion, including Skyline with Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette, which won the Grammy Award for best instrumental jazz album in 2022, and Live in Marciac with Aymée Nuviola, which won a Latin Grammy that same year. But the idea of the solo piano record was never far from his mind.
“I never forgot about it, and I emailed Gregory [Elias, proprietor of Top Stop Music,] a note,” Rubalcaba says. “He responded quickly, and we started to talk about finding a studio with a good piano. At this time, Bösendorfer had sent a technician to rebuild my piano, which is about 25 years old. It was like having a new piano. So I thought about doing the record at home, where the piano is. That meant we’d have to rent a lot of stuff to make the space sound accurate, to do the recording, and also the equipment we needed to do it. Gregory said, ‘Why not? Let’s see how we can arrange everything.’ I appreciated that he was very open to any of my craziest ideas.”
The repertoire on Borrowed Roses includes classic songs by Cole Porter, the Gershwins and Billy Strayhorn along with jazz standards by Bill Evans, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington and Chick Corea. The recording took place over two days of highly focused seven-hour sessions.
“Playing solo is a different journey than playing with trio or quartet or any ensemble,” says Rubalcaba. “It’s a huge challenge, but it also presents many possibilities. What you can do with a piano is almost infinite. You have to find a way to use all these possibilities that are before you according to what you need aesthetically, artistically in every moment. It demands that you be well-trained, know the instrument, know the music, know yourself. If you don’t know yourself, you can’t look for an evolution.”
Here’s the track listing:
- Chelsea Bridge
- Someone To Watch Over Me
- Take Five
- Here There and Everywhere
- Lush Life
- Night and Day
- In a Sentimental Mood
- Very Early
- Do It Again
- Shape of My Heart
Gonzalo Rubalcaba’s Borrowed Roses is out Sept. 15, 2023, via Top Stop Music.