Having given excellent versions of themselves – individually or together in some of the most celebrated ensembles [Roy Haynes, Charlie Haden, Chick Corea, Eddie Palmieri, Carla Bley, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Maria Schneider, to name a few!] – The Rodríguez Brothers, an incredibly potent duo come together once more on Reunited – Live at Dizzy’s Club in order to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the debut recording with which they blazed across the stratosphere like two musical comets. Sons of the Cuban drummer Roberto Rodríguez, pianist and composer Rob Rodríguez is elder to trumpeter Mike Rodríguez by a year. However, to all intents and purposes they could be itinerant musical twins who when yoked together, create seductively melodic, colourfully harmonic, and vibrantly rhythmic music.
The repertoire on this recording is a wonderful example of the kind of rhapsodic miniatures that these two musicians end up stretching almost always to upwards of at least eight minutes each time the brothers and their musical cohort dig into them. The performances on each of the seven songs on this hour [and-then-some…] long album is vivid and eloquent. The musical edifices emerge that are intricately wrought [such as both Rob Rodríguez’s Gitmo’s Groove and Mike Rodríguez’s Impromptu] and soulfully expressive – the best of which is the pianist’s elegiac Lulu’s Song, which is easily the elegant apogee of any album by these supremely talented brothers.
Both brothers are excellent composers – in addition to being prodigiously gifted – each on his own instrument – the piano and the horns [trumpet and flugelhorn]. Their work – while propelled by Afro-Cuban tumbao and deeply rooted in the island’s irresistible descargas, often punctuated by stunning rhythmic montuno breaks – swings with abandon, which also belies their dedication to the wider world of Black American Music. However, both brothers reveal their extraordinary sense of lyricism and poetry through deeply felt melodies. Trumpeter Mike’s tensile, declamatory horn lines are always softened by warm, textural beauty. Pianist Rob’s pianism is a blend of languid lyricism and piquantly perfumed harmony. Both musicians have infallible ears for tapping into the timbres and personalities of their [individual] instruments.
The ensemble on this recording could not have been comprised of better musicians to bring to fruition the work of The Rodríguez Brothers’ unique artistic vision. Bassist Ricky Rodríguez is one of the most sought-after contrabassists [and electric bass players] on the continent. He is a perfect shoe-in to hold up the bottom end of the music’s harmonic spectrum. He can take anything thrown at him and will respond – as he does in soli and ensemble – with flighty inventiveness. This Rodríguez [related to the brothers just by musical ingenuity] sculpts his bass lines, one monumental variation after the other. He is the perfect foil for the rolling thunder [and hissing sizzle of an assortment of cymbals] that drummer Adam Cruz brings to the party. Inspirational percussion colouring is provided by Anthony Almonte, who also dazzles throughout this exquisite recording.
While there is substantial ear-catching individual work throughout by each of these musicians, the glorious nature of this album owes everything to the manner in which each of the musicians bow to the individuality of the other. That is what makes it one of the finest, most memorable small ensemble recordings you could hope to find in a musical world otherwise characterised by musical inertia.
YouTube Video – The Rodriguez Brothers
Music – 1: Gitmo’s Groove; 2: Guayaquil; 3: Impromptu; 4: Descargnation; 5: Love Samba; 6: Lulu’s Song; 7: Minor Song.
Musicians – Mike Rodríguez: trumpet, flugelhorn and percussion ; Rob Rodríguez: piano; Ricky Rodríguez: contrabass; Adam Cruz: drums; Anthony Almonte: percussion.
Released – 2023
Label – RodBros Music [1005)
Runtime – 1:03:39
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