The Rodriguez Brothers – Impromptu
(Criss Cross Jazz 1381. CD Review by Adrian Pallant)
The sunshiny Latin zest of new quintet release Impromptu, from New York-based brothers Michael and Robert Rodriguez (trumpet and piano respectively), is wonderfully ingrained with percussive, improvisational high spirits.
Having collaborated individually with a panoply of artists including Roy Haynes, Wynton Marsalis and Quincy Jones, the brothers’ working band has been in existence for some thirteen years and has three previous albums to its name. Driving the dance energy here, through eight originals penned mainly by Michael and Robert, is the busy rhythm section of Carlos Henriquez (bass), Ludwig Afonso (drums) and Samuel Torres (congas, percussion).
This hour-long, joyous celebration exudes impassioned musicality and technicality, tumbling to complex riffs and percussive grooves – and every track is capacious enough to allow the band to stretch out, as in opening title track Impromptu which effervesces to the leaders’ extended trumpet and piano improvisations. The vibe they create is pretty compelling, with La Guaracha suggesting the Afro-Cuban/Latino soundworlds of Jerry Gonzalez and Gonzalo Rubalcaba; and the titling of Fragment perhaps sells itself short – a seven-minute wonderland of effusive rhythms, rapid, muted-trumpet licks and scintillating high-wire piano.
Descargation shuffles inquiringly to the clear, vibrato-embellished tone of Michael Rodriguez’s trumpet; and smooth Love Samba widens into group vocal festivities before the eight minutes of Latin Jacks shimmies to the propulsion of congas and coruscating cymbals. Late-night Tu Mi Delirio (by the Cuban composer/lyricist César Portillo de la Luz) eases along to low, sundown flugelhorn melodies and pellucid, chromatic piano – a magical state of mellowness; and finally, Minor Things grooves sharply to tricksy rhythms and bright, imaginative soloing which breaks out into a concluding display of Latin exuberance.
An album whose pleasure is drawn from the overall feel-good, rather than any specific number, Impromptu is nevertheless imbued with an intoxicating, carnivalesque jazz atmosphere.