Here is an album with no traditional rumba. Rafael Zaldivar, undoubtedly one of the great Canadian (and Cuban) musicians of his generation, explores here all the possibilities of the basic material that is rumba, a musical genre with its own sub-genres and styles, born in the Afro-Caribbean melting pot of Havana in the 19th century. The rumba of the Montreal musician who also teaches at Laval University is one to listen to and transcend the physicality generally associated with this art form that is at once musical, vocal and choreographic. Rumba is a link with Zaldivar’s roots that justifies the pianist and composer in his bold investigation of all the learned possibilities that he can draw from it.
Zaldivar has enlisted the help of some of the best jazz musicians in the world: guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel adds his airy touch to a relaxed reading of several of the Quebec musician’s pieces. He seems to surf on the breath of the score, helping us to mentally fly over luminous, spring-like landscapes, creating a pleasant nostalgia as autumn takes hold in the North of America.
Elsewhere, it is the tribality of the rumba that stands out, or its off-beat, contemporary possibilities. Zaldivar is also helped in this by the excellent Teri Lynne Carrington and his compatriot Ingrid Jensen. Rumba is a principle, an inspiration, an idea, perhaps even a spiritual adventure. In any case, it is an album of genius that will add to the aura that is building around Rafael Zaldivar on the jazz planet.