If anyone knows how to make music connect with people, it’s the guy that gave us Sinatra at the Sands and Thriller. This evening at the Edye, one of Jones’ best recent discoveries delivered a concert performance that should continue the proper direction of America’s greatest music.
Cuban-born Alfredo Rodriguez has two excellent albums under his belt, but neither one is a solo album, making this intimate evening an extra special (and vulnerable) musical affair. Being unaccompanied by nothing more than inspiration from God, talent and his Cuban heritage, Rodriguez is able to take a sublime and simple chiming theme like “El Guije” and create ripples of sonic water that veer between Latin Folk and Liszt, with the final outcome being “10% song and 90% improvising,” as he joked afterward.
Traditional pieces such as “Hojas Blancos” had the pianist mix bel canto drama with melody, while “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas” had Rodriguez’s fingers create shadowlike spaces, intermingling notes that would suddenly disperse like cars zooming in and out of a roundabout.
Using the piano strings and his stomping foot as rhythm, Rodriguez rumbled through a joyful “Guantanamera” that gave hints of Vince Guaraldi but with changing speeds, moods and dynamics that included joy, celebration and mystique.
And what would Latin music be without sentimentality? “Venga La Esperanza” mixed a deep, almost computer-like avalanche of notes before cresting into a wave of lyricism and reflection while “Veinte Anos” was a longing and passionate aria. The closing “Itinerarias” had Rodriguez’s fingers prancing with delight and the encore “Como Fue” sauntered down the streets like a dreamy lover.
Few artists are able to bring sounds from their own home country and successfully combine it not only with American flavors, but with other spices from the world’s melting pot. Rodriguez works like a master chef, with the piano being his kitchen.
Upcoming shows at the Broad Stage/Edye include Brad Mehldau & Joshua Redmn Oct 2, David Binney & Steve Lehman Oct 7, Extreme Bass Night Oct 14 and Joey Alexander Oct 15