Gonzalo Julio Gonzalez Fonseca was born in Havana, Cuba, May 27, 1963, into a musical family rich in the traditions of the country’s artistic past. During his childhood, in addition to the standard fare of elementary schools, Gonzalo was absorbing his Cuban musical heritage through personal contacts within his family, notably his father, pianist Guillermo Rubalcaba, and leading musicians who were frequent houseguests: Frank Emilio, Peruchin, Felipe Dulzaides and others. He also assimilated through scarce and treasured recordings the tunes and styles of 40’s-70’s US jazz masters: Thelonius Monk, Bud Powell, Oscar Peterson among pianists; and instrumentalists Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Art Blakey. Gonzalo loved drumming, and early in his career studied both piano and drums. He began his classical musical training at Manuel Saumell Conservatory at age 9, where he finally had to choose piano; he moved up to “middle-school” at Amadeo Roldan Conservatory, and finally earned his degree in music composition from Havana’s Institute of Fine Arts in l983. By that time he was already playing in clubs and music halls in Havana. With Orquesta Aragon he toured France and Africa in 1980. He introduced his own Grupo Projecto to the North Sea and Berlin Festivals in l985. In July 1990 he appeared as a surprise guest with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian at Montreux Festival, Switzerland, in a historic performance (available as the CD Discovery).
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