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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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Savant SCD 2082





1. Rowdy Rod
2. Guayaquil
3. Lerida
4. Rude Awakening
5. Spin
6. Intro to Conversations
7. Conversations
8. Midnight Excursion
9. El Manicero (The Peanut Vendor)
Robert Rodriguez Piano (tracks 1-5, 7-9)

Michael Rodriguez Trumpet, flugelhorn
David Sanchez Tenor sax (tracks 4, 8)
Carlos Henriquez Bass (tracks 1, 3, 4, 7, 8)
Ricardo Rodriguez Bass (tracks 2, 5, 6, 9)
Antonio Sanchez Drums (tracks 1-5, 76-9)

This is the first album I've received from the Rodriguez Brothers, and I'm impressed. The brothers Robert and Michael were born in 1978 and 1979 respectively, and their father Cuban-born Rodrigo, was a drummer. Their debut CD, Introducing the Rodriguez Brothers, was released in 2003.

You can hear the Cuban influence in the first two tracks and several others, which benefit from Latin-American rhythms. These are mostly supplied by Antonio Sanchez, a wonderfully versatile drummer who is well known from his work with Pat Metheny and many others. Rude Awakening has a different feel, more in the post-bop idiom, which the brothers manage equally well. Their range is shown by the tender ballad Lerida, dedicated to Robert's wife, with Michael soloing eloquently on flugelhorn, and Spin, which plays around with unusual time signatures, creating a swaying motion.

The most challenging items are the title-track and the preceding Intro to Conversations. The Intro is a fugue with three flugelhorn parts and bowed bass. It has an almost classical ambience. Conversations itself is a complex yet tranquil tune which allows great lyricism from Michael Rodriguez on flugelhorn and his brother at the piano. Throughout the album, Robert's piano playing is clear-lined and richly melodic.

Midnight Excursion features the muscular tenor sax of David Sanchez (apparently no relation to Antonio Sanchez). The Peanut Vendor is the only tune on the album not written by Robert or Michael and sadly it's a disappointment. Michael sounds as if he is trying to do a Miles Davis, with slightly out-of-tune muted trumpet and various freedoms taken with the original theme. It maintains a danceable pulse (thanks primarily to the bass and drums) but the performance sometimes sounds as if it is about to descend into chaos.

This last track is the only thing I am unhappy about. Otherwise this album can be recommended for its thoughtful compositions, its adventurous breadth, and its interesting interplay between the musicians, who are all first-class players. The sound quality is excellent.

Tony Augarde


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