Best Jazz Instrumental Album - Turning Point (Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Matthew Brewer & Eric Harland)

Best Improvised Jazz Solo - "Turning II" (Gonzalo Rubalcaba)

Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Matt Brewer

Eric Harland

5Passion Records announces the release of Turning Point, a new album by GRAMMY-Award winning pianist Gonzalo RubalcabaTurning Point introduces a new trio, Trio D’été, which features stalwart bassist Matt Brewer and star drummer Eric Harland. The second in a planned trilogy of trio recordings, this new release follows in the footsteps of Rubalcaba’s Skyline, which won the GRAMMY award last year for Best Jazz Instrumental Album.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 03: Gonzalo Rubalcaba accepts the Best Jazz Instrumental Album award onstage during the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony at MGM Grand Marquee Ballroom on April 03, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

During his 35 years as a recording artist, Gonzalo Rubalcaba has been averse to repeating himself from one album to the next, adhering to a tenet once summarized by Wayne Shorter as “everything that’s happened is a work in progress,” or, as Duke Ellington suavely put it, “my favorite recording is the next one.” Along those lines, in recent years – as on Skyline with Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette, Rubalcaba has retrospected on earlier experiences, reconsidering the raw materials and approaching them with an attitude of speculative creativity.

Those imperatives guided Rubalcaba in 2018 as he conceived Turning Point, recorded in Miami a month after Skyline. Like Skyline, Turning Point demonstrates Rubalcaba’s protean approach to the piano trio, a configuration he’s investigated before the public gaze since his 1990s Blue Note recordings with Carter, DeJohnette, Charlie Haden, John Patitucci, Jeff Chambers, Paul Motian and Ignacio Berroa.

Although Rubalcaba has deep roots with both musicians, the Rubalcaba-Brewer-Harland configuration was a new one circa 2018. Turning Point is Brewer’s fifth recording with Rubalcaba since 2007, when he played on Avatar, a quintet session with alto saxophonist Yosvany Terry, trumpeter Michael Rodriguez and drummer Marcus Gilmore on which Rubalcaba premiered “Infantil,” a reimagined version of which opens this album. He’s subsequently performed on 5Passion productions XXI Century, which featured the Rubalcaba’s trio with Brewer and Marcus Gilmore; Suite Caminos, an ancient-to-future evocation of Afro-Yoruba ceremonial; and Charlie, Rubalcaba’s bolero-centric homage to Haden.

Rubalcaba’s maiden voyage with Harland also occurred in 2007, when they joined Chris Potter and Dave Holland in a “Monterey All Stars” unit that toured the U.S. during that summer and recorded one album. Explaining his thinking about their second encounter, Rubalcaba says: “I wanted to do a trio record of original music, based in the language of jazz, not completely straight ahead, but bringing in other elements that are part of my musical memory and my personality as a musician. I thought that Eric could help me rhythmically – his background is not only straight ahead, but also from R&B – he plays drums in a very modern way, which is what I was looking for.

While Skyline was a collaborative effort featuring compositions from Rubalcaba, Carter and DeJohnette, on Turning Point, Rubalcaba takes on a more pivotal role as both composer and producer. “Of course, I put my faith in Eric and Matt, and I wanted them to make that music like this is their music, too. They’re both serious about being up to date and informed about everything happening at the moment, not only here, but different points around the world. They have American music, of course, but also music from India, from Brazil, from Africa, from musicians I don’t know. This is healthy, because you can tell them, ‘this is my idea, and I’d like to have that sound and go in that direction,’ and their level of reference allows them to connect quickly with that idea.”

Gonzalo Rubalcaba Trio feat. Eric Harland and Matt Brewer (Trio D'été)