In these hard times of pandemic and confinement, good music has proven to be an indispensable ally to help reduce anxiety and keep our mood healthy. “Viento y Tiempo, Live at Blue Note Tokyo”, the recently released material by Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Aymée Nuviola is a special occasion to see these two consecrated Cuban artists reunited and it is an excellent proposal that combines the best musical ingredients to have a long and successful way.
“This album has emerged from a musical project that Aymée and I have been planning for some years,” says Rubalcaba. “We have been close friends since we were little and we share many experiences in the past. We wanted to make a kind of tribute to our roots, our mothers and our land ”. The new job “stems from the generosity and respect shared by us,” Nuviola adds. We know that we are heirs to an extraordinary musical treasure and that it is our duty to preserve it with care in order to continue offering it to the world ”.
Recorded live during the successful performances that the duo had in August last year at the prestigious Blue Note club in Tokyo, Japan, “Viento y Tiempo” appears under the Top Stop Music label and features the musical production of Gregory Elias and Gonzalo Rubalcaba and the general production of Top Stop Music, Paulo Simeon and María González. The album that crosses the border between Cuban rhythms and jazz, -mainly based on recognized themes of Cuban music-, also has the excellent arrangements of Rubalcaba.
The new installment starts at full speed with ‘Rumba Callejera’, a song composed by Nuviola in which the interpreter, accompanied by the right notes of Rubalcaba and the powerful voice of her sister Lourdes, brilliantly captures the spirit of a genre that with its clamor and rhythm generate identity, reminding us of where we come from, and who we are.
The ‘Guararey de Pastora’, a song in homage to Juan Formell -another great of Cuban music- is the preamble to ‘El Manisero’, a jewel of the insular songbook composed by Moisés Simons and that Rita Montaner immortalized at the beginning of the last century . In this excellent version that now takes flight under the prodigious hands of Rubalcaba and the beautiful voice of Nuviola, both artists recreate the melody, incorporating with virtuous improvisations an organic, renewed and current air to the iconic proclamation.
‘El Ciego’, a beautiful bolero by the Mexican Armando Manzanero, -the only song on the album that does not have Cuban origin- relies on the interpretive capacity of the Cuban singer, who has shown throughout her career that emotionality counts in it one of its best exponents. Her inflection-filled singing gently basks in the melody of Japanese guest artist Kazuhiko Kondo’s sax.
The album’s commendable purpose of supporting and making the talent of patio musicians such as Neiger Mayito Aguilera, on percussion, Reiner Guerra on drums, Yainer Horta’s sax, Cristóbal Verdecía on bass, and the voices of Lourdes Nuviola and Alfredo Lugo.
Another jewel of Cuban music, the danzonete ‘Rompiendo La Rutina’ composed by Aniceto Díaz in 1929, is a delicious example of the delicacy and respect with which the classics have been treated on the album. The cadence and rhythmic essence in the arrangements added to the delicious execution of Rubalcaba in its variations and the tasty discharge of Nuviola make this iconic piece take us at times to the Cuban party halls of the republic.
‘Bemba Colorá’, the song that the great Celia Cruz brought to success, becomes a worthy and deserved tribute to the Guarachera of Cuba and serves as a framework for ‘Lagrimas Negras’, one of the most recognized melodies in the Cuban repertoire. Both numbers give us the opportunity to enjoy the technical display and maturity reached by Rubalcaba who establishes, together with Nuviola’s tasty improvisations, a virtuous musical dialogue.
To conclude, the title track is reserved, a song by Kelvis Ochoa that is used to the last note to exploit the percussive effect that has made the whole world dance to our music. ‘Viento y Tiempo’, brings together in a catharsis of sounds the intervention of the percussion, the sax and the voice of Nuviola with the impressive speed of the Rubalcaba piano. How tasty!