Step off your back porch on a late summer night, and if you’re lucky enough to live outside the city and its caterwaul, you’ll hear the rhythms of nature: crickets and katydids in chorus, cicadas keeping the beat, the stately declaration of an owl. This is nature’s jazz. Rationally, the sounds would fall together in a odd intermingling, and yet, they fall together as natural as a gust of wind through the trees. A bit of world zest delivers a universal resonance, echoing sensations from all walks of life in an intuitive hum. It is the auditory equivalent of unicycling: It looks easy until you try it.
Alfredo Rodríguez is a jazz pianist who has charted a journey all the way from Cuba to crossing paths with music mogul Quincey Jones, and then on to the premiere stages of the world. He’s been a staple of the jazz festival circuit, from Monterey to Newport to Playboy, and from SXSW to festivals in Shanghai, China. All the while, thrilling audiences to a jazz fusion jangle with a Cuban subtext, creating surprising rhythm blends woven together as a cashmere sweater—tightly knit with a soft, cascading amalgamation of fiery, yet mellifluous Cuban-peppered jazz.
“[When I was] Very little, I was already attracted to sounds around me and I wanted to find a language to express myself, and I found out that creating musical sounds was the best way I had in order to communicate.”
Touring with his latest album, The Invasion Parade, Rodriguez aspires to spread a message that embodies who he is—his soul existence.
“Music is the best medium to express myself and my experiences. Everyday, we are improvising with our lives, we don’t know the future but we try different things. I’m doing the same thing with music and improvisation. I try to incorporate every situation, every experience that I have everyday into my music. My music is the direct reflection of myself.”
Born into a musical family, Rodríguez is the son of a singer and TV personality. He began playing in his dad’s band at age 15, and took off in improvisation and experimentation in classical music, jazz, Cuban, Latin, dance and symphony, leading him to develop his own style and career.
“My uncle gave me an album of Keith Jarret: The Koln Concert and I was completely hooked. In 2006, I was invited by Claude Nobs to perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival and I had the opportunity to play for Quincy Jones at Claude’s chalet. A couple months after, I left Cuba to work with Quincy in Los Angeles, where I live now.”
Identified as “one of the most prolific and gifted jazz pianists of the 21st century” by Quincey Jones, Rodriguez has shared a stage with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Patti Austin, James Ingram, McCoy Tyner, Esperanza Spalding, Richard Bona, and Lionel Loueke…just to name a few.
Inspired by “different aspects of life and human beings, interactions, movements, and rhythms that people make when they live,” he strives to create more music in line with “the moment;” that is “honest” with himself and his state of mind.
“Actually, one of wildest dream would be to play in Cuba. I haven’t played there for more than 6 years so it would be a wild dream to go back there and play for my people.”