by Willard Manus
is yet another gifted young musician to come out of Cuba. The son of a
popular singer and entertainer, he was trained as a pianist in Havana's
Instituto Superior de Arte and was playing professionally at fourteen.
After hearing him at the 2006 Montreux Jazz Festival, Quincy Jones took
him under his wing. The latter co-produced Rodriguez's latest CD, THE
INVASION PARADE, which is a follow-up to the pianist's debut album on
Mack Records, Sounds of Space.
On THE INVASION PARADE, Rodriguez--who now resides in the USA--investigates
some of the many aspects of his musical heritage:
Conga Santiaguera, country music, Santeria, Brazilian bossa novas, and
rumba. No matter the classification, every tune on this nine-track CD
is a splendid example of 21st-century Afro-Cuban jazz: fresh and fiery,
perfect for dancing.
"In my music I don't want to lose that connection to the dancefloor,
and that doesn't happen with music that has a folk essence," Rodriguez
explains. "You go ask a rumbero (rumba practitioner) in Cuba and
for him there is no difference between him, the singer and the dancer.
It's all one thing."
Working with a skilled ensemble that includes bassist and vocalist Esperanza
Spalding, vocalist Pedrito Martinez, and drummer Henry Cole, Rodriguez
and Jones have put together an album that will soon be shaking the walls
of many a disco and dance-studio.