Jay Rodriguez Performs at Wellington's Third Eye

Published: Tue 26 Feb 2019 05:54 PM
Jay Rodriguez Performs at Wellington's Third Eye
Jay Rodriguez  is one of the busiest men in jazz, and one of the few playing most all the reeds as a leader and sideman with wildly diverse musicians, synthesizing these experiences within his own projects. Jay picked up the clarinet in grade school at age seven, after moving to NYC in 1970 from Barranquilla, Colombia, and furthered his reed studying with Phil Woods, Joe Allard, Tito D’Rivera (father of Paquito) and Joe Henderson. He was playing lead alto with Tito Puente by the age of fifteen, graduated with the highest honours from New York City’s renowned High School for the Performing Arts, and continued his studies at Manhattan School of Music and The New School.
When asked about his childhood, Rodriguez recalls, "My saxophone guru, Mark Friedman, tried to teach me how important it was to be a kid. Of course, I didn’t listen, so I was playing gigs constantly. I’d be coming home at 6 o’clock in the morning, then going to school. That was my childhood and I don’t regret it." Always open-minded and versatile, Rodriguez' first jobs included Latin bands, jam sessions in Harlem, and studio work on commercials. Since the late 1980s, he has split his time between gigs with Bill Ware, Groove Collective, and Medeski, Martin, and Wood, as well as more mainstream acts like Dizzy Gillespie´s United Nations Orchestra, Gil Evans' Orchestra, David Murray, Doc Cheatham, Kenny Barron, and Roy Hargrove. Immensely capable on nearly all reeds, but primarily a soloist on saxes and flutes, he has a lithe sound and refreshing willingness to explore any genre and a unique ability to contribute mightily to any ensemble.
Rodriguez' pantheon of important musical contributions has been a part of the New York music scene in many genres as a composer, arranger, and soloist for the past thirty years. He is the Musical Director and a founding member of the New York City phenomenon Groove Collective. In its over twenty year career, the band has opened for and jammed with James Brown, backed Tupac Shakur, and shared the stage with Isaac Hayes, Erykah Badu, The Roots, and B.B. King, among others. Rodriguez also earned two of his three Grammy Nominations for the band’s albumsDeclassified andPeople People Music Music.
Rodriguez' intense focus and determination have propelled him into a highly successful musical career, performing or recording with artists as diverse as Joe Lovano, Elvis Costello, Gil Evans, The Mingus Big Band, Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Craig Harris, Ray Barretto, Latin pop stars Ruben Blades and Willie Colon, Eddie Palmieri, Bobby Sanabria, Stevie Wonder, Joan Osborne, Debbie Harry (Blondie), Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes, JB Horn, Fred Wesley, Bernie Worrell of Parliment Funkedelic, the Cuban All Star jazz band Irakere, Paquito D’Rivera, Ray Barretto, Slide Hampton, James Moody, Clark Terry, Wynton Marsalis, Cab Calloway. he has also worked with The New York Philharmonic, composer Philip Glass, rap artist Guru’s Jazzmatazz Jazz/Hip Hop project, and dance projects with Little Louie Vega, Dennis Ferrer, and DJ Smash. He has recorded/toured with Prince, Gangstar, DJ Premiere, George Porter Jr. Recently signed with Manager/Producer Suzi Reynolds, Rodriguez is currently working on a new recording and reviving Groove Collective. He also remains highly active on the international scene, performing over two hundred gigs a year.
"Prolific. Prodigal. Profound. That is Jay Rodriguez. Sometimes the sound is explosive, wild and full of fury, other times his music aches with a passion that’s painful and bare. Always modest and reverent, Rodriguez harnesses the unbridled audacity of youth and melds it with the uncanny discipline of a hardened New York jazz veteran. Married to the song while sleeping with the groove, his sound sings of commitment to an ideal - it is spontaneity, culturally untethered and unpretentious, the excitement of far flung love at all costs. It is perfectionism kissed by chaos." - Michael Gelfand, The New Yorker.
"He could be breathy and insinuating on a ballad, brawny and extroverted in an uptempo." - Jon Pareles, The New York Times.
"Rodriguez plays with an unreserved flexibly on the tenor, alto and soprano saxophones; flute; and bass clarinet. Originally from Colombia, he has worked with artists from Prince to Elvis Costello to Marc Ribot ... Mr. Rodriguez moves between idioms and energies as easily as he switches instruments" – Giovanni Russonello, The New York Times.
"Rodriguez is more than a musician. He is a visionary. Jay Rodriguez is the Latin American Answer to James Carter and a true light to hear and see." - Arnie Lawrence, Founder of The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music.
“His work is defined with versatility, humor and heart. His jazz playing is full of blues and soul. It is one of those voices that are hard to describe with words, and that is much closer to the spirit." - El Heraldo, Colombia.
"Fleet-fingered saxophonist Jay Rodriguez has played it all in New York: salsa with Celia Cruz and Tito Puente, hip-hop with DJ Premier and Groove Collective, straight-ahead with Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Barron and Doc Cheatham." - National Public Radio.
For this show Rodriguez will be joined by Mark Lockett on drums and Patrick Bleakley on bass.
Thursday, February 28, 8-10 PM
The Third Eye, 30 Arthur St., Te Aro, Wellington. 6011
Door Sales: $15 general, $10 for WJC members.
For more information and details on joining the Wellington Jazz Cooperative, see -
Howard Davis
Scoop Arts Editor
Educated at Cambridge and UCLA; worked on several major Hollywood feature films and as a Kundalini Yoga instructor in Los Angeles; currently enjoying life in Wellington.
Contact Howard Davis

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