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September 2002

Roberto J. Rodriguez
El Danzon de Moises
Tzadik

Roberto Juan Rodriguez was born in Cuba and learned music from his father, trumpeter Roberto Luis Rodriguez. After studying violin, piano and trumpet, Rodriguez the younger started playing drums, and he's since performed with Paul Simon, Mark Ribot, Ruben Blades, Cachao, L. Subramaniam, John Zorn and Joe Jackson. His newest project, El Danzon de Moises (Tzadik), not only includes his father playing fine trumpet (que sabroso!), it successfully combines the fervor of the radical new Jewish music with the forms and rhythms of the island. The pleasures are many: the title track, with its ecstatic clarinet solo that makes you pray while you're dancing; "The Shvitz," which breaks more than a sweat with the virtuosity of violinist Mark Feldman and clarinetist David Krakauer; the adventurous "Shalom a Shango," with pianist Craig Taborn's block chords and a quote from Lecuona's "Siboney"; and cellist Jane Scarpantoni stating the beautiful theme of Rodriguez's original carnival song "Comparsa en Altamar." The disc ends with saxophonist Peter Apfelbaum cutting loose, backed by the amazing rhythm section fueled by Rodriguez and Susie Ibarra playing a supercharged conga rhythm on "Jerusalem Market." Only a schlub would pass this up.

Originally published in September 2002
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