It is probably unfair to compare the younger Pete Rodriguez to his father Pete “El Conde” Rodriguez, who was a fascinating figure in another era when he illuminated the Fania All-Stars, first between 1964 and 1973 and later between 1983 and 1989, when he teamed up with Johnny Pacheco and the Fania All-Stars to make eleven albums. But the young Mr. Rodriguez is just as fine a trumpeter as his father was a rumbero. And he proves this on his beautiful album Caminando con Papi. His sound is sensuous; great gusts of warm winds issue notes of astounding multidimensionality and depth. His lines are like liquid fire and burn through the horn as he solos with broad and fluid glissando. This results in great cascades of notes that tumble nimbly from out of his horn. Mr. Rodriguez also has such control that he skips and gambols when he plays these bubbling phrases and yet never misses a step. He also conceives of his soli as if he were constructing a towering edifice, always careful never to over-state his lines and the planes that find them bouncing off into space. Finally he is so stately in his musicianship that he is utterly convincing when he makes it known that he comes from Latin-Jazz royalty.
Mr. Rodriguez has also established here that he is fairly adept at composition and he has also put together a small but potent combo to bring his music to fruition. The pianist, Venezuelan star, Luis Perdomo, is the perfect second voice on this recording. His harmonies are soft when they need to be and firm when the arrangement calls for them. Mr. Perdomo also plays Fender Rhodes on this album although he is not credited with this instrument and in the greater scheme of things this is most appropriate adding a certain lightness to the denser tones and colours of Mr. Rodriguez’s horn. “Caminando con Papi” is a perfect example of this. He is also abstract and angular when he joins the ensemble to play on “Shut Up & Play Your Horn” a fine chart that is almost reminiscent of the name of Frank Zappa’s “Shut up and Play Your Guitar”. Of course the songs are vastly different and Mr. Rodriguez matches the abstractions that the pianist issues with complex lines and angularity of his own on a chart that’s really reminiscent of Freddie Hubbard than anyone else. But Mr. Rodriguez does have a voice of his own as does the amazing pianist Luis Perdomo.
If that was where the music stopped it would be a pity. Fortunately this is not so. Bassist Sam Pankey and drummer Daniel Dufour encounter the complex rhythms of Mr. Rodriguez with beauty beyond words. Mr. Pankey is a truly melodic bassist and plays with forthrightness and muscularity and the drummer Mr. Dufour is a terrific listener who plays with extraordinary expression. His modulation is exemplary and he is a perfect fit for the trumpeter and pianist as he knows just when to let the other musicians move into the spotlight. His playing on “It’s Not Over Yet” shows how a drummer should accompany the lead voice in a small ensemble and this could be a model lesson for younger drummers who wish to get ahead in music. Roberto Quintero is also a terrific percussion colourist and brings great nuanced tones within the rhythms he plays. Perhaps the only weak part of the album is the tentative sounding vocals that Mr. Rodriguez could well have done without. Otherwise this is a sterling effort from a musician of whom much more will be heard in the near future.
Track List: Tambo; Still Searching; Tic-Tock; Arlene; No Lo Queria Hacer; Cabildo; Caminando Con Papi; Shut Up & Play Your Horn; It’s Not Over Yet; El Camaleon.
Personnel: Pete Rodriguez: trumpet, vocals; Daniel Dufour: drums; Sam Pankey: bass; Luis Perdomo: piano; Roberto Quintero: congas, batá, chékere, maraca joropo, cajón; Nayeli Rodriguez: vocals.
Label: Destiny Records | Release date: September 2013
About Pete Rodriguez:
Trumpeter, vocalist, percussionist and composer Pete Rodriguez has played with some of the best musicians in the world, including many of Latin music’s luminaries, such as Celia Cruz, Johnny Pacheco, La India and Tito Puente, including singing on Puente’s Grammy and Latin Grammy winning album, Mambo Birdland. Pete is the son of Pete “El Conde” Rodriguez, a music legend in the Latin music world who gave “Lil’ Pete” the responsibility of directing his 12-piece orchestra while also playing the trumpet and singing. While excelling in the Latin field, Pete also pursued his love for jazz and has been fortunate to have performed with such high profile bandleaders as Eddie Palmieri, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Chico O’Farril, Carlos “Patato” Valdéz, and Bebo Valdéz, including performing on Eddie Palmieri and Brian Lynch’s Grammy-winning album, Simpatico.
Pete’s CD, El Alquimista/The Alchemist, featuring Grammy-winning saxophonist David Sanchez, as well as Luis Perdomo, Henry Cole and Ricky Rodriguez, received critical acclaim, being called “historic” and “one of the best albums” of the year.