AVAILABLE NOW on Mack Avenue Records:
Cuban Pianist ALFREDO RODRÍGUEZ Reflects on
Memories of Home with New Album, The Invasion Parade
Co-Produced by Mentor Quincy Jones and
Featuring Esperanza Spalding and Pedrito Martínez
""[Alfredo's] playing, proficient and soulful, projects a spirited,
youthful charm." - The New York Times
"I have been surrounded by the best musicians in the world my
entire life and he is one of the best." - Quincy Jones
For those who know how to listen, time and distance offer a wealth of perspective.
"When you live in your own country, you are immersed in that reality and you're not necessarily conscious of all the different elements that make it what it is," says Cuban pianist and composer Alfredo Rodríguez, who moved to the United States in January 2009. "I breathed Cuban music. Being outside that reality gives me a different perspective. Creating and playing this music has been like finding out who I am, all over again."
On The Invasion Parade, the follow-up to his stunning debut on Mack Avenue, Sounds of Space, Rodríguez explores his memories of Cuba, the people and the culture he left behind-and finds his new place.
Photo Credit: Miguel Elizalde
Co-produced by Quincy Jones, Rodríguez' champion and mentor, and featuring a superb ensemble that includes bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding and percussionist/vocalist Pedrito Martínez, The Invasion Parade comprises nine tracks including originals by Rodríguez as well as evergreens such as "Guantanamera," Maria Teresa Vera's "Veinte Años," and "Quizás, Quizás, Quizás."
In 2006, Rodríguez was chosen to play at the Montreux Jazz Festival. While there, he was invited to a gathering at the house of the festival's founder and director, Claude Nobs, who asked him if he would play for Quincy Jones. "When I finished, Quincy said he liked it a lot and that he wanted to work with me. That someone I admire so much would be interested in doing something with me was incredible. But I'm a realist, and while it was a nice idea I thought it would be difficult. And it was."
It took him three years. Finally in 2009, while in Mexico after playing some engagements with his father who lived there at the time, Rodríguez made his move with "nothing: a suitcase with a sweater, a pair of jeans and my music."
The title The Invasion Parade refers to an annual tradition, a carnival parade in Santiago de Cuba commemorating the invasion of the Liberation Army that marked the end of Cuba's War of Independence. In this blocks-long parade "not only comparsas [drumming and dance groups] participate but also all the people of Santiago, they come out and join playing whatever they have-drums, pots, whatever, and singing improvised lyrics," explains Rodríguez. The term "invasion" in the title, he's quick to note, "refers to the invasion of the streets by people who come out to participate and celebrate."
"Sometimes there's a gulf between the intellectual elements around music and the dancer's needs. It happened in jazz and it was very damaging. In my music I don't want to lose that connection to the dance floor, and that doesn't happen with music that has a folk essence. You go ask a rumbero [rumba practitioner] in Cuba and for him there is no difference between the singer, the player and the dancer. It's all one thing. And if you don't know all the three aspects then for him, you know nothing about it."
Upcoming Alfredo Rodríguez Trio Performances:
March 6 / Scullers Jazz Club / Boston, MA
March 7 / Ferst Center for the Arts / Atlanta, GA
March 8 / Art on Broadway - First United Methodist Church / Wichita, KS
March 14 / Michigan Theater / Ann Arbor, MI
March 22 / The Broad Stage at Santa Monica College
Performing Arts Center (solo) / Santa Monica, CA
March 28 / Napa Valley Performing Arts Center
at the Lincoln Theater / Yountville, CA
April 3 - 6 / Jazz Standard / New York, NY
April 10 & 11 / Sevva / Hong Kong, China
April 15 - 17 / Blue Note / Tokyo, Japan
April 19 / Motion Blue / Yokohama, Japan
April 22 / Blue Whale / Los Angeles, CA
April 23 / Kuumbwa Jazz Society / Santa Cruz, CA
April 24 - 27 / SFJAZZ Center / San Francisco, CA
Alfredo Rodríguez · The Invasion Parade
Mack Avenue Records · Release Date: March 4, 2014