Pianist Alfredo Rodriguez Makes Career Album, 'Tocororo,' Mack Avenue Records [REVIEW]
Pianist/composer Alfredo Rodriguez, 30, has outdone himself. His Sounds of Space debut was one of the more promising jazz CDs of 2011. His 2014 The Invasion Parade dissected his Cuban cultural influences into slivers of modernism. Tocororo (Mack Avenue Records), though, beats all. In purposely collaborating with musicians from France, Lebanon, Cameroon, Spain and India, his newfound world-jazz reaches heights unimaginable for the 15-year old kid so taken with Keith Jarrett's The Koln Concert.
He wrote five of 13. Compay Segundo's 1987 massive son hit "Chan Chan" revitalizes the song that led to the success of the Buena Vista Social Club. Vocal sister duo Ibeyi (daughters of that revered Club's Anga Diaz) provide wordless vocals on "Yemaya" (an original extolling the Yoruba diety of water) and real lyrics on "Sabanas Blancas."
The massive colorations within the sparkling bubbly arrangements of saxophones, clarinet, flute, trumpet, bass, drums, percussion and Alfredo's piano, Suzuki melodion and synth are spread out. Astor Piazzolla's "Adios Nonino" tango sprouts out of the speakers like a living thing as does "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" by some guy named Johann Sebastian Bach. Add some flamenco and African to this hot frothy Cuban stew and Tocororo has some kick! (The African element comes when Cameroonian multi-instrumentalist singer Richard Bona guests on Eliseo Grenet's "Ay, Mama Ines.")
The project was named after the national bird of Cuba, the tocororo, a bird so fragile that it cannot be caged for it will die of sadness if it cannot fly. Put your own analogies there.