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Rubalcaba, Fernández y la cadencia de lo cubano con el flamenco

Written by: Fernando Gonzalez
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La colaboración del pianista cubano de jazz Gonzalo Rubalcaba y la cantaora flamenca española Esperanza Fernández junta a dos artistas de primera línea en sus respectivos géneros sin miedo de arriesgarse y explorer otros mundos musicales.

Hijo de Guillermo Rubalcaba y nieto de Jacobo Rubalcaba, figuras ilustres en la música cubana como intérpretes y compositores, Gonzalo creció en la tradición antes de comenzar su propio camino que lo ha llevado al jazz, incluyendo la fusión de jazz rock, el jazz afrocubano y el post-bop, pero también a búsquedas en la música clásica, los danzones y el bolero. Fernández, una gitana de Triana, el gran barrio histórico del flamenco en Sevilla, nació y creció, como Rubalcaba, en la tradición. Ha actuado y grabado con la realeza del flamenco, figuras tales como Paco De Lucía, Camarón de la Isla y Enrique Morente, pero también ha aceptado desafíos con orquestas de música clásica (interpretando y grabando “El Amor Brujo” de Falla por ejemplo), grupos de jazz e innovadores del flamenco tales como los guitarristas Niño Josele y Gerardo Nuñez y el saxofonista Perico Sambeat.

En “Oh, Vida!”, en el Arsht Center el viernes 4 de marzo, como parte del Flamenco Festival Miami, Rubalcaba y Fernández exploran los estilos y repertories de dos cantantres que se transformaron en figures icónicas en sus respectivos géneros, Beny Moré en la música afrocubana y Manolo Caracol en el flamenco.

“Oh, Vida!” es uno de los 10 trabajos comisionados por el Arsht Center, una serie conocida como “10@10,” celebrando el 10o aniversario del centro artístico y cultural.

En una reciente entrevista, Rubalcaba habló de su trabajo con Fernández, los desafíos que presenta un proyecto de mezcla de géneros musicales y culturas y el secreto para crear un lugar de encuentro.

¿Cómo comenzó este proyecto?

Yo conocí a Esperanza en el contexto de Playing Lecuona. La idea era que Chucho Valdés, Michel Camilo y yo teníamos la responsabilidad de manejar el repertorio de Lecuona, y que trabajáramos en diferentes formatos y con cantantes. La razón es que Lecuona trabajó extensamente con voces. Gran parte de su repertorio es cantado. Con Esperanza nos conocimos personalmente cuando hicimos la grabación y se dio una gran conexión.

Nos sentimos muy cómodos haciendo el trabajo y se produjo una admiración mutua, algo que es muy importante en todo esto. Y fue la propia Esperanza unos meses más tarde quien me propuso hacer un trabajo juntos donde pudiéramos explorar nuestras diferentes visiones de la música, y a mí me pareció genial.

¿Cuáles fueron los desafíos más importantes en “Oh, Vida!”?

Creo que para cualquier artista que decide incursionar en un género que no es el propio, el mayor desafío es no tener las vivencias, el contexto, de la cultura que creó ese género. Le tengo gran respeto al flamenco, pero no soy gitano y nunca voy a ser gitano o flamenco, así que lo nuestro fue un ejercicio en crear puentes, lugares de encuentro. Por lo demás [la rítmica, la armonía, el fraseo], es cómo aprender un idioma.

¿Porqué le interesa este tipo de proyecto de mezclas de géneros musicales, de diferentes culturas?

Cuba, por muchas razones, tiene una personalidad cultural muy abierta, muy flexible en términos de fusionar, de mezclar, todo lo que llega o pasa por la isla. El cubano siempre ha estado abierto a manejar todo lo que le llega y él cree que puede aportar a su cultura. La nuestra no es una cultura estacionaria. Yo siempre digo que todos estos proyectos sirven más allá del producto final, sobre el escenario. Crear algo así demanda un proceso de aprendizaje que te sirve para seguir creciendo

“Oh, Vida!” ofrece un programa de canciones de Beny Moré y Manolo Caracol. Porqué los eligieron a ellos?

Beny Moré es, sin duda, una persona clave en la música cubana. Y surgió la idea de crear un paralelo, una conexión, con la época que él vivió, el momento en que él estaba en la cima de su popularidad, y lo que estaba pasando en el flamenco en esa época. Y así surgió el nombre de Manolo Caracol y vimos que podía ser la contraparte de Beny en el flamenco. No todas las canciones que elegimos son los grandes éxitos, no. De Beny, por ejemplo, incluímos “Por una madre,” porque Esperanza se enamoró de esa canción y fue Esperanza quien la trajo porque, la verdad, yo no la recordaba.

Estoy contento porque siento que Esperanza tiene la misma actitud de re-descubrir a Beny Moré y la música cubana que la que yo tengo por su cultura. Para que un proyecto como éste resulte, hay que partir del respeto, y el respeto se manifiesta en que hay que investigar, hay que re-escuchar, hay que re-leer y hay una necesidad de ir al porqué de las cosas, a la esencia.

Gonzalo Rubalcaba y Esperanza Fernández presentan “Oh, Vida!,” parte del Flamenco Festival Miami 2016, 8 p.m. Viernes 4 de marzo; Knight Concert Hall, 1300 Biscayne Blvd. Miami; $35-$95; o 305.949.6722.



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Music writer, associate editor of the Latin GRAMMY Print & Special Projects for The Latin Recording Academy

Emmy-winner and GRAMMY®-nominated writer, critic, and editor Fernando González is the associate editor of The Latin GRAMMY Print & ..

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