Mauricio J. Rodríguez Project: Luz

One of the greatest and everlasting legacies of Johann Sebastian Bach is his invention of bass line melodies – especially his writing for more than one voice singing in contrapuntal lines. More especially was his exploration of bassline melody evidenced in his breathtaking Goldberg Variations. Every conservatoire-trained musician knows this and has striven to master both; some especially Cubans musicians have done so with monumental success. Mauricio J. Rodríguez is one of them – probably the best one – at subsuming his music with bassline melodies that could only have found inspiration in Bach and this is all over the repertoire on his album Luz.

Album cover - Mauricio J. Rodríguez Project: Luz
Album cover – Mauricio J. Rodríguez Project: Luz

Basso continuo was part of the characteristic sound of baroque music, involving a harpsichord and a violoncello or a viola de gamba and Mr Rodríguez has cleverly adapted this device to marvellous effect in his work as he keeps the bottom-half of the melody uplifted with florid architecture as his pianist Gabriel Hernández Cadenas. “Monday” is a fine example of this writing [and performance], as is Mr Rodríguez’s interpretation of Chucho Valdés’ “Claudia”.

Moreover, Mr Rodríguez has a refined sense of contrapuntal music and his arrangement of instrumentation involving piano, guitar and horns is quite breathtaking; all the more beautiful when he adds his basslines to interweave everything together as the music soars into the rarefied realm. If “Danzón No 1 – Opus 1 con chá” is a masterpiece [where the clarinet of José M. Sardiñas is exquisitely featured] of Mr Rodríguez’s writing then “Wednesday” is even better – a truly glorious work where the full splendour of this music is in evidence.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the songs written by Mr Rodríguez’s co-producer, Vicente Viloria, composer of some of the finest work on this album. “Es el amor” is typical of his fine writing. It floats on the vocals of Adriana Foster with gently ascending lines that are truly aglow. The ‘dying away’ in the song’s dénouement is beautifully handled, given the music’s aching bitter-sweetness. Miss Foster repeats her flawless vocals on “My Funny Valentine”.

Mr Rodríguez’s almost insolent virtuosity is in unequivocal evidence throughout “Claudia”. This is a special treat as his playing is almost unobtrusive – albeit reflective of his instrumental genius – throughout the rest of the repertoire. The music – indeed the entire production – is superbly crafted and often even great. The energy of the dancing character; the drawing on popular and traditional idioms [on “Luz” with its magnificent vocals by Jorge Quintano and on “Vocalize” with vocals by Big Johnny Boffa];  the unashamed yet highly inventive use of traditional harmony make for some truly memorable music. An unusual and impressive release.  


Track list – 1: Casualty; 2: Monday; 3: Es el amor; 4: Tuesday; 5: Claudia; 6: Luz; 7: Wednesday; 8: Danzón No 1 – Opus 1 con chá; 9: My Funny Valentine; 10: Vocalize

Personnel – Adriana Foster: vocals [3, 9]; Jorge Quintano: vocals [6]; Big Johnny Boffa: vocals [10]; Gabriel Hernández Cadenas: piano and keyboards [1, 2, 8, 10]; Ahmed Barroso: guitar [6]; Zachary Bornheimer: saxophone [2, 4, 7]; Jorge Pinelo: saxophone [1]; José M. Sardiñas: clarinet [8]; Richie Viruet: trumpet [2]; José Pradas: violoncello [3]; Mauricio J. Rodríguez: six-string electric bass, fretless electric bass and contrabass [1, 2, 4 – 10]; Reiner Guerra: drums [2, 4]; Lucio Veira: drums [10]; Orlando “Landy” Masqueda: udú, African percussion, timbal and Cuban percussion [2, 8]; Tomasito Cruz: bàtá [2]; Andy Fornet: cajón [2]

Released- 2021
Label – Independent
Runtime – 49:51

Raul Da Gama
Raul Da Gama
Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

More from author

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related posts

Featured Posts

Pablo Ziegler: The Pianist That Caresses Our Listening

"Tango is a musical style that must constantly evolve and not be some ridiculous folklore to lure tourists" - Astor Piazzolla The celebrated Argentinian pianist...

The Feeling Messengers, Past and Present (Part I)

Preamble Within the current renaissance of popular Cuban music, coupled with the seemingly eternal presence of its first cousin American Jazz, we are once again...

In Conversation with Carlos Cippelletti

Pianist, composer and arranger Carlos Cippelletti, is a promising young Spanish, Franco-Cuban artist from the last generation of Afro-Cuban jazz musicians born outside the...

Celebrating Jane Bunnett: Spirits of Havana’s 30th Anniversary

After dark they gather, the spirits of Havana. Is that a ghostly, but fatback-toned rapping down in the barrio where the great composer and...

Piazzolla Cien Años: Lord of the Tango@100

There is a now famous photograph of the great Ástor Piazzolla that is iconic for so many reasons. Chief among them is the manner...

Omara Portuondo, Multifaceted Gem of Cuban Music

My moon app announces that in 14 hours the Supermoon of May will be here. During a full moon I often get inspired to...

Ray Barretto · Barretto Power

Barretto Power: A Celebratory Reissue on its 50th Anniversary It was 1970 when Fania Records released Barretto Power, one of a series of seminal albums...

El Gran Fellové: Part 3- When my Parents…

When my parents bought their home in 1968, Sunset Beach was just another sleepy little beach town It spanned about one mile in length, sandwiched...

El Gran Fellové: Part 2- Enter Chocolate & Celio González

Early Sunday morning… I awoke to the pleasant surprise of a Google Alert in my email. I clicked to find Variety Magazine had published an...

El Gran Fellové: Part 1- The Beginning

Francisco Fellové Valdés (October 7, 1923 – February 15, 2013), also known as El Gran Fellové (The Great Fellove), was a Cuban songwriter and...

Join our mailing list

Participate in contests, giveaways and more