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Gonzalo Rubalcaba & Chucho Valdes

North America, Europe / International

Trance, the two-piano project featuring Chucho Valdés and Gonzalo Rubalcaba, brings together the leading living exponents of two generations in the great Cuban piano tradition.

As the title suggests, Trance is a collaboration that speaks of a profound connection to the spiritual forces that flow through the many tongues in music. But the title also alludes to the musical conversation between two brilliant players and composers whose friendship and mutual admiration and respect goes back decades.

Perhaps best known as the founder, leader and main composer and arranger of the ground-breaking Afro-Cuban jazz rock band Irakere, Valdés has, since 2005, turned his attention to his personal career, showcasing his talents as a pianist and leader of small ensembles. Rubalcaba, who grew up listening to Valdés, burst on the world jazz scene in the 1980s with Grupo Proyecto, his explosive Afro-Cuban jazz fusion ensemble. By the early ’90s, Rubalcaba’s dazzling performances leading a trio featuring Charlie Haden and Paul Motian had established him as one of the premier pianists in jazz.

Both Chucho and Gonzalo are now based in the United States.

“I know Gonzalo’s father and I know Gonzalo since he was a child,” noted Chucho. “This is a duo comprised of two pianists who have a historic relationship within the Cuban piano tradition. That has made this project something very special. It emerged very naturally, organically. The two pianos already sound like one.”

Meanwhile, Gonzalo adds that “It would have been easy to pick some standards and just go out and play, but we wanted to do something special. We’re both writing music for two pianos and re imagining music ranging from the popular and classical Cuban repertoire to Monk.”