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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Live in Italy

Explore EXP 0018





1. Blues to You
2. Blue in Green
3. Beatrice
4. All of You
5. Channel Five
6. Sunday Kind of Love
7. Thing a Ma Jig
8. Mambo Influenciado
Jay Rodriguez – Saxophone, flute
Chucho Valdes – Piano
Ratzo B. Harris – Bass
Victor Jones – Drums

Jay Rodriguez was born in Colombia and Chucho Valdes comes from Cuba, so you might expect this album to include plenty of Latin-American rhythms. However, these only crop up on the final track – Chucho Valdes’ Mambo Influenciado. It is a fiery piece, lit up by Chucho’s glittering piano and Rodriguez’s mercurial flute. The rest of the album is a mixture of serious ballads and powerful blues outings. The latter are sometimes overpowering, as Jay Rodriguez is much given to honking and screeching on the tenor sax, sounding a lot like Albert Ayler. His long solo on Sunday Kind of Love exemplifies his strengths and his weaknesses. It contains much thoughtful, committed playing, but it is marred by occasional overblowing, which is far from mellifluous. I prefer him playing the flute, where he is less abrasive. For example, on Blue in Green his flute swirls poetically, coaxing a wide range of tone colours from the instrument.

Chucho Valdes also gets a lot out of the piano, with his hands rushing up and down like a manic kitten on the keys. His more melodious approach tends to balance out the off-putting qualities of Jay’s harshness. This concert was actually recorded at Il Poste in Verona in 1999, and one wonders why it hasn’t been released until now. Perhaps someone realised that, despite its exciting qualities, the music sometimes grates on the ear. This is a pity, as Rodriguez is clearly a talented player – and we already know that Chucho Valdes is an excellent musician. The two men could have made beautiful music together, but the results are not always beautiful.

Tony Augarde





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