JAZZ AROUND TOWN, By Scott Yanow, December 2, 2015
Bobby Rodriguez’s The Magic Of Christmas (available from www.bobbyrodriguez.com) is a bit different than expected. 20 years after recording his popular A LatinJazz Christmas CD, the trumpeter’s newest effort grooves as much as swings, often utilizes contemporary rhythms, includes a brief rap on “The Spirit Of Christmas,” and features his big band accompanying vocalists with just one song (“Sleigh Ride”) being an instrumental. Barbara Morrison stars on six selections, putting her usual blend of blues feeling, swing and heartfelt emotions into such numbers as “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” and “Christmas Time Baby.” Tierney Sutton is an asset on three songs (including “Winter Wonderland”) and Rodriguez takes personable vocals on “Frosty The Snowman” and “It’s Time For Christmas.” Rodriguez and his wife, Yvonne, contributed four originals to the set and displays versatility, taking trumpet solos that range from extroverted to a couple that hint at Miles Davis. The music is often funky, sometimes reverent, and always filled with the Christmas spirit.
Rodriguez Shows He's More
Than Top Educator
Jazz Review, By Don Heckman
Special to the Los Angeles
Trumpeter, Bobby Rodriguez has been
such a successful educator that his own solid gifts as a performer
have not always received the credit they deserve. Granted the
1998 Jazz Educator of the Year award by the Los Angeles Jazz
Society, he directs the Latin Jazz ensembles at USC and Pasadena
City College and has led his County High School for the Arts
Jazz ensembles to numerous competitive achievements.
But, as he made amply clear at the Carpenter
Performing Arts Center Sunday afternoon in what has now become
his annual "LatinJazz Christmas Show," Rodriguez is
both a first-rate Jazz trumpeter and an ebullient, entertaining
performer. Leading his regular seven-piece ensemble, he devoted
his entire program to Latin rhythm transformations of Christmas
music-from salsa-drenched versions of "O Tannenbaum"
and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" to a sweetly
lyrical flügelhorn rendering of "The Christmas Song."
It was all well-played, with Rodriguez's
stirring trumpet lines taking the leading on virtually every
number, pianist Serge Kasimoff Laying down vigorous tumbao patterns,
and the five-person percussion section (including Rodriguez's
wife, Yvonne) maintaining a multilayered, foot-tapping flow of
Good as it was, however, it wasn't quite
enough for Rodriguez, who clearly enjoys making a solid connection
with his listeners. So, on several numbers, he brought out the
dance team of Albert Torres and Chantal to provide visual counterpoint.
On two other pieces, he invited children from the audience on
stage, producing several lovely holiday moments. The reading
of "Silent Night" was particularly effective, with
Rodriguez playing the song while seated in a circle of children,
each of them clutching a miniature toy trumpet.
The program climaxed, appropriately,
with the additional participation of 17 of Rodriguez's talented
young instrumental students. Performing stirring renditions of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and "Feliz Navidad," they brought the well-produced concert to a close on a high note,
their solid individual and ensemble skills underscoring how effectively
Rodriguez has balanced the educational and the performance aspects
of his career.
Jazz Pick of the Week
By Bill Kohlhaase
Wynton Marsalis was coaching a demonstration band clinic on Ellington before an audience at the International Association of Jazz Educators convention in Anaheim last January and he wanted more from the trumpet section. The USC jazz ensemble Marsalis was guiding (and, Wynton being Wynton, occasionally berating) boasted a few ringers, trumpeter Bobby Rodriguez among them. Wynton picked up the trumpet to show the kind of individualism and New Orleans enthusiasm he wanted during one section and then, when the band tried it again, Rodriguez beat Marsalis at his own game, playing his given lines with fire, New Orleans-inspired grease and an extra Latin Flair. Wynton, maybe a bit humbled, took notice, saying "Yeah, like that." Rodriguez is known for taking things to the limit, whether playing his trumpet, conducting a band or teaching a classroom full of aspiring musicians.
The East L. A. product has played for Quincy Jones, Lalo Schifrin, Herbie Hancock, Poncho Sanchez and Ray Charles, but is best known as the leader of a number of jazz and Latin ensembles, the HMA (Hispanic Musicians Association) Orchestra among them, and as director of the Latin jazz ensembles/programs at USC, Pasadena City College, and the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.
On his new, self-produced recording, Latin Jazz Explosion, Rodriguez the trumpet player shows he's capable of both the boisterous and the sensitive in a program that ranges from Joe Zawinul's "Birdland" to Kurt Weill's "My Ship."
Bobby Rodriguez and the Latin Jazz Legends
At the Orange County Performing Arts Center
Review from L. A. Jazz Scene-March, 2005
On February 11th and 12th trumpet-man Bobby Rodriguez performed in the Jazz Club at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa. Accompanying Rodriguez was Justo Almario on tenor sax and flute, pianist Joe Rotundi, Russell Blake on the electric bass, and Alex Acuña on drums.
The first set on Friday evening was extremely well played and entertaining. It featured a number of American standards played over a Latin rhythm and some original numbers also. Rodriguez opened with a gorgeous rendition of "We'll Be Together Again." He played beautiful embellishments to the melody on flugelhorn while accompanied only by Rotundi's charming chordal inspirations on piano. Next, it was "Meet You At The Mambo Inn," made famous by Tito Puente. Here Rodriguez's flare for precise articulation was very apparent. Rotundi's prolific piano solo was impressive, as was Blake's bass solo as he vocalized his improvisations. "Frijoles," a Rodriguez original, had a nice bounce to it. It featured Almario in a driving and muscular solo on the tenor sax. Rodriguez's solo was quite attention-grabbing, as it was based on numerous short phrases which allowed the rhythm to come through. This tune also contained a challenging passage of ensemble work featuring the tenor sax and trumpet. Ellington's "Don't Get Around Much Any More" was played over a Latin rhythm and featured Almario's dancing flute. It, too, had some nice ensemble work with flute and trumpet. "Historia de Un Amor" "(The History of Love)," a ballad with a melancholy feel, featured Almario playing an unforgettably impassioned tenor sax solo. The set closed with "Birdland," played in Latin style. There was trading of hot 8's and 4's between Rodriguez and Almario and an awesome polyrhythmic drum solo by Acuña.
This was a very entertaining show with excellent musicianship and repartee by Rodriguez who proved to be a jovial host as well.
volume 68 - number 10
Around Los Angeles, trumpeter Bobby Rodriguez is known as a leader, guiding the paths of seven diverse Latin jazz bands. He leads three commercial groups: Bobby Rodriguez Latin Jazz, his small ensemble heard on last year's Grammy-nominated LatinJazz Explosion album; a 23-piece Latin Jazz Orchestra; and the Hispanic Musicians Association's Salsa Jazz Orchestra. In addition, he guides four educational projects: Bobby Rodriguez and the Jazz Adventure, the professional quintet that performs history of jazz concerts for young students in the area; the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts Studio Band; the UCLA Latin Jazz Band and the Pasadena City College Latin Jazz Ensemble.
Rodriguez has taught big band Latin jazz at Pasadena City College for a couple of years, and he joined Kenny Burrell's jazz studies department at UCLA in August. "It's the first time UCLA has had a Latin jazz program," Rodriguez says.Balancing his time as an educator and professional can prove tricky at times for Rodriguez, but he handles it with a positive, enthusiastic and pragmatic outlook. "I play the role of leader, arranger, composer, orchestrator, trumpter and contractor," he explains prior to starting his improvisation class at the high school, located on the campus of California State University Los Angeles. "As an educator, there are other issues I have to deal with, ranging from motivating the kids to learning about improvisation, arranging, composing and playing within the 30-piece band."
The East Los Angeles-born and raised musician started playing trumpet when he was 10 and discovered jazz and the joys of improvisation while a 14-year-old student at Salesian High School. Although he grew up listening to Mexican music in a primarily Mexican section of L.A., he let jazz into his life and the music changed him for good.
Rodriguez's most recent recording, LatinJazz Romance, released on his own label, switches moods and tempos from the hot clave, cha cha, bolero and salsa beats on the first CD to a more reflective romantic mood. "We need more romance, we need to stop screaming and yelling at each other," he says. "We need to bring back sensitivity and caressing. The music has to be lovely. I need to show this side of my heart."