Vortex was fully packed and enthusiastically buzzing, which tells that the word about the “Quincy Jones protégé” was really wide-spread. All sorts of jazz afictionados kept on coming, the beginning of the concert was delayed, but finally…
Rodriguez began the set with a long solo intro, articulately exploring the keyboard with dark chords and gradually arpeggiating into more elaborate harmonic patterns, wich (for all those unfamilliar with this young Cuban talent) undoubtedly established a statement about the quality of his musical intelligence and technique.
A solo warm-up was followed by the original when the rhythm section (bassist Reinier Elizarde and drummer Henry Cole) joined in unison with a powerful riff. The composition evolved into the adventurous melodic improvisation over the staccato patterns. Henry Cole with his remarkably sensitive playing (and a drumset with two snare drums) created that Caribbean flavour which was felt as a subtle emotional ingredient. The guys were really enjoying their ride, which you could also tell by the occasional groanings and cry outs comming from the stage.
Rhythm section gave Rodriguez a really confident support in his improvisational journeys, where he—despite of countless references to various Greats of the Keyboard—sounded, well, authentic. Rodriguez’s left hand and Reinier Elizarde’s bass lines were regularly locking into powerful unison riffs and these were the moments when their wide improvisational vocabulary and emotional spectrum created that electricity in the air.
The second piece started with a free wandering across open piano strings with bass and drums making percussive noises. The intro felt a bit too long because the audience, caught in the impressions of the first piece, was buzzing away, so the Trio just kept on playing free-style until the audience calmed down. Then a slow tempo Rodriguez’s solo started emitting bits of melody, gradually revealing the Osvaldo Farres’s “Quizás, Quizás, Quizás” (“Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps”). Subtly joined by the rhythm section and played with rich spaces in phrasing, the tune was brought to the extremes of dynamic improvisation and deconstruction. It was really an impressive emotional discharge. Here Rodriguez demonstrated his ability to create suspense while playing “silent notes” in melodies—I witnessed a couple of satisfied smiles in the audience.
I wasn’t able to stay until the end of the second set, but I can surely say this: Rodriguez’s musical temperament and improvisational devices make him a promising heavyweight already. His Trio with it’s highly articulate sonoric density and keen interplay gave us that evening a solid piece of music with these pleasant moments of ants running down the spine.
More about Alfredo Rodriguez: www.alfredomusic.com
Photo: Geiste Kincinaityte
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