Gonzalo Rubalcaba had only just entered his 30s by the time he took to the stage of the Munich Summer Piano Festival. The highly-influential Cuban pianist had made a name for himself in the jazz world under the mentorship of Charlie Haden and was hungry to prove his right to be considered amongst the world's must-see pianists. Yet, rather than frills and bombast, he elected for a path of quiet and subtle virtuosity to make his point, forming a trio set made up of well-known reprisals.
Flanked by his fellow countryman, Julio Barreto, on drums and Ron Carter, the most prolific double bassist of all time, he covered music from a staggering range of past legends. Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Benny Golson, Charles Mingus, Bud Powell and more. It was a repertoire designed to please the crowd, but the Munich audience found in Rubalcaba much more than a talented interpreter that night – he was to lay the groundwork for modern Latin jazz pianists and his deftness of touch and inventive rhythmic and melodic marriages were already present in his playing.