FIU Music Festival Opening Night: Alfredo Rodriguez Trio
Friday, October 26 at 7:30pm to 9:00pm
Wertheim Concert Hall 10910 SW 17th St., Miami, FL 33199
Discovered at the 2006 Montreux Jazz Festival by Quincy Jones, Cuban-born Alfredo Rodríguez has rapidly risen to stardom under the tutelage of the famed producer. Since arriving to the U.S. in 2009, Rodríguez has appeared on prestigious stages such as the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl, the Gilmore Keyboard Festival, Detroit, Umbria and Vienna Jazz Festivals. Rodríguez’s music explores his memories of Cuba, the people and culture he left behind, and how he found his new place. Rodríguez was nominated for a 2015 Grammy® in the category of “best arrangement, instrumental or acappella,” for the track Guantanamera.
Alfredo Rodriguez is as proficient at playing classical music as he is his chosen genre. His music reflects the talents of legendary jazz pianists Keith Jarrett, Thelonious Monk, and Art Tatum. Schooled in the rigorous classical conservatories of Havana, Rodríguez’s riveting artistry is informed as much by Bach and Stravinsky as it is by his Cuban and jazz roots.
Rodriguez was born in Havana in 1985 and named for his father, a popular singer, television host, and entertainer. He began his musical studies on percussion at the age of seven and training on the piano at age 10. He was enrolled in the Manuel Saumell Conservatory, and later at the Amadeo Roldan Music Conservatory. He won classical competitions in both schools.Rodriguez eventually studied at Cuba’s premier school, Instituto Superior de Arte, where he also won several competitions.
In 2006, he was invited to play the Montreux Jazz Festival. The festival’s founder, Claude Nobs, requested he play privately at his home for Quincy Jones. The producer and arranger liked what he heard and wanted to work with the young pianist.
While working with his father in Mexico, Rodriguez decided to relocate to the United States with nothing but his clothes and a suitcase. He was arrested at the border in Laredo, but he was resistant and insisted that he be let in because he was a musician and was going to work with Jones. Remarkably, he eventually convinced them; they let him in and even put him in a cab.
In 2011, Rodriguez signed with Detroit’s jazz label Mack Avenue Records. His debut album, Sounds of Space — co-produced by the artist and Jones — was issued in 2012, winning wide critical acclaim and resulting in more touring opportunities. In the spring of 2014, Rodriguez, his trio, and notable guests issued The Invasion Parade (again co-produced with Jones), a collection of originals based on Cuban folk traditions as well as standards from his homeland.
The association with the legendary producer continued for his next Mack Avenue recording, 2016’s Tocororo. Named for the Cuban bird that dies of sadness if caged, for the artist it reflects: “…not only the desire for liberty, but the necessity of it…freedom, travel, and the cross-pollination of Cuban culture….” His guests on the date, Richard Bona, Ibrahim Maalouf and Ibeyi underscored that notion. In 2018, the pianist returned with his fourth studio album, A Little Dream.