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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 24, 2003

Charlie Haden And Gonzalo Rubalcaba Perform Nov. 15

Legendary Iowa-born bassist Charlie Haden and Cuban jazz piano virtuoso Gonzalo Rubalcaba will perform "Charlie Haden/Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Duets" at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15 in Hancher Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus.

Haden has been at the forefront of jazz since the 1950s, from the challenging "free jazz" of Ornette Coleman and his own Liberation Music Orchestra, through his searching collaboration with Keith Jarrett in the 1960s and '70s to the lush lyricism of his nostalgic Quartet West in the 1990s. As Francis Davis put it in the Atlantic Monthly, "No other instrument in jazz is more essential than the bass, both backbone and heartbeat, and Haden is its master."

He was one of the first American jazz artists to "discover" piano prodigy Gonzalo Rubalcaba in Havana, and he used the respect he commands in the jazz world to help introduce Rubalcaba's keyboard mastery to a wider listenership.

In the United States this was only possible for many years through recordings, due to the dysfunction of American/Cuban politics. For example, since he was unable to bring Rubalcaba to the United States during the 1980s, Haden arranged for his appearance at a festival in Montreal, and their performance together was later released on CD, one of several fruitful collaborations.

Eventually Rubalcaba emigrated to the Dominican Republic, and he has lived in the United States since 1996, repeatedly confirming, in person, the "monster" jazz-Afro-Cuban fusion that was once only a rumor. In 2001 Haden and Rubalcaba collaborated on "Nocturne," a CD of Cuban ballads that one internet critic called, "one of the most beautiful recordings I have ever heard."

Rubalcaba's facile playing has attracted a cult following of devoted fans in recent years. Bill Loughborough wrote on a Rubalcaba fan-site, "You probably don't know much about Rubalcaba because he is a Cuban National who has only been welcome in the U.S. very recently. Rubalcaba is UNQUESTIONABLY the greatest improvisational pianist in the history of jazz. . . . Truly rare are our encounters with genius -- the transcendence of a medium. Gonzalo Rubalcaba is one of those almost deific encounters. His art transcends music and makes his performances like religion -- 'a near life experience.'"

The son of a musical family -- his father was instrumental in introducing the "cha-cha" -- Rubalcaba reflects in his eclectic music the unusual combination of Latin, African, Caribbean and Russian classical influences he encountered growing up in Cuba.

Haden was born in Shenandoah, Iowa, and grew up steeped in the country music of his family's vocal group, which performed regularly on radio, first in Shenandoah and then in Springfield, Mo.

After learning the bass as a teenager, Haden moved to Los Angeles, where he worked with established jazz stars including Art Pepper and Dexter Gordon. While working with experimental pianist Paul Bley, Haden encountered Ornette Coleman and became the bass player in the saxophonist's revolutionary quartet, which introduced new harmonic, rhythmic and improvisational concepts into jazz.

Jazz critic Joachim Berendt wrote that Haden "revolutionized the harmonic concept of bass playing in jazz. He was the first bassist who consistently avoided playing changes or following pre-established harmonic schemes, but instead created a solid harmonic foundation out of the passage of independent melodies. In technical terms, Haden isn't a virtuoso. His virtuosity lies on a higher level -- in an incredible ability to make the double bass 'sound out.' Haden cultivates the instrument's gravity as no one else in jazz; with an unfathomably dark resonance and an earthiness of timbre, endowing even apparently 'simple' lines with an affecting quality. He is a master of simplicity."

Haden also recorded with John Coltrane, Archie Shepp and Pee Wee Russell; toured as a regular member of Keith Jarrett's "American" quartet; and was a founding member of Old And New Dreams.

In the 1980s, Haden recorded with artists including Jack DeJohnette, Jan Garbarek, Ornette Coleman, Pat Metheny and Michael Brecker. "Dream Keeper," the 1991 release by his Liberation Music Orchestra won both the Down Beat Critics' and Readers' polls as "Album of the Year," and also earned a Grammy nomination.

Haden founded the jazz studies program at the California Institute of the Arts in 1982, and in 1987 he organized his Quartet West, which has released a series of acclaimed "jazz noir" recordings that have made several "album of the year" lists and attracted numerous Grammy nominations.

Dahl Ford of Davenport, Inc., is the corporate sponsor of the Haden/Rubalcaba concert, through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Ticket prices are: $36/33/30; UI student $28.80/12; senior citizen $28.80/26.40/24; youth $18/16.50/15.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to 319-353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 319-335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website:

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail:

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,

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