Alfredo Rodríguez at the Jazz Showcase - The Bird is out of its Cage

Seeing Grammy nominated pianist Alfredo Rodríguez at the Jazz Showcase on Thursday night was like taking a musical journey with the musician.  Backed by Peter Slavov on bass and Henry Cole on drums, the trio showed the audience how to embrace many different aspects of jazz, music and culture.

Alfredo Rodríguez Trio at the Jazz Showcase on Thursday night

Rodríguez, raised in Cuba, is not just a Cuban musician.  His music reflects a more global mood, representing all the different influences he has picked up since leaving Cuba seven years ago.  His latest album is titled, “Tocororo” is named after a bird that if put in a cage, dies of sadness:  which represents Rodríguez’s need for freedom.  This search for freedom was on display on Thursday night.

 

Rodríguez created a dreamy / other-worldly atmosphere

The set began with “The Invasion Parade”.  The song started with Rodríguez singing into an effects machine to create a dreamy / other-worldly atmosphere.  But soon enough, the bass and drums kicked in and the sounds of Rodríguez’s Cuban roots kicked in with familiar Latin flairs. 

It was a very big sound coming from just a trio

It was a very big sound coming from just a trio.  In this rendition of the song, the group seemed to bounce from Latin Jazz, to a more traditional New York Style Jazz, to World Music.  Rodríguez transition between these different styles and tempos was seamless.  It was as if he and the trio were displaying the very freedom that the tocororo craves.

 

Henry Cole on drums

Rodríguez also displayed his absolute mastery of the piano.  His playing was fluid and loose, yet powerful.  At times it seemed as if all his fingers were playing different songs yet all in harmony.  It’s not surprising as his talents have earned him frequent appearances on prestigious stages around the world such as the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl, Montreux Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Jazz in Marciac, Umbria Jazz and Jazz A Vienne.  He also caught the eye of Quincy Jones, who has served as a mentor and produced to RodríguezJones was quoted as saying, “Alfredo is without doubt one of the best young pianists I’ve ever seen and with the enormous skills that he already possesses, his potential is limitless.”

 

Quincy Jones on Rodríguez, "his potential is limitless"

Rodríguez was nominated for a 2015 Grammy in the category of “Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella,” for the track “Guantanamera.” He was generous enough to play it for the crowd at the Jazz Showcase Thursday night.  Again the song starts quietly with just Rodríguez on the keys and then bursts into what sounds like a celebration when the bass and drums join in.  By the smile on his face, you could tell Rodríguez was having just as much fun as the audience.

 

Rodríguez displayed his absolute mastery of the piano

The journey Alfredo Rodríguez takes the audience on is one of independence and inclusion.  It's what the sound of an immensely talented Cuban pianist sounds like when embracing the wide world of music.  With all the recent ugly campaign rhetoric about isolationism, this sound and message is very much needed in the world.

 

Alfredo Rodríguez continues his residency at the Jazz Showcase through June 19th.  Click here for tickets.  

 

For more information about Alfredo Rodríguez, click here 

 

Photos by K. Joseph Fotos, website here

 

 

 

 

 

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