Puerto Rican trumpet wonder Pete Rodriguez blends his style of Latin music with a modern jazz sound, forging an impressive musical statement on El Alquimista - The Alchemist, his third album as leader. Serving as a sideman on many other recordings, performing with some of the best Latin jazz artists in the business including Eddie Palmieri, Tito Puente, Chico O'Farrill and Carlos "Patato" Valdez, the trumpeter's developed chops draw comparisons to those of Clifford Brown and Freddie Hubbard.
While Rodriguez was exposed to the world of Latin music at an early age, as the son of Latin music legend Pete "El Conde" Rodriguez, the trumpeter continues his evolution of the Latin genreso much so that the album cannot be considered a pure Latin jazz recording. Quite the contrary, there is a predominant element of the contemporary that more accurately categorizes this as a modern jazz disc. The opening "Who Do I Trust," is somewhat of a departure, with its more improvised free jazz style.
The trumpeter's sextetGrammy-nominated saxophonist David Sanchez, pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Ricardo Rodriguez, drummer Henry Cole, and congeuero Roberto Quinterothunders through ten originals, starting with the five-part "Jive State Suite." Save for the opener, the repertoire delivers sharp melodies featuring rich-sounding trumpet phrasings and solid solos from Sanchez. "Not Good Enough," the second part of the suite, seems like a misnomer of a title since it's clearly good enough by any standard.
"Reflection" presents Perdomo's beautiful piano lines, leading to soft saxophone and trumpet voicings in a gentle ballad that's not to be missed. In contrast, "The Truth Will Always Surface" comes bolting out of the gate; a fast-paced swinging number that's all jive. Much in the same vein, the Latin-tinged "Scorpion" rumbles along with Quintero's percussive background. Staying with the percussive Latin sound, Rodriguez includes a dedication to his dog Indio on "El Indio," where he delivers some of his best chops.
The program ends with the more subdued "Shambala" and assertive title tune, which begins with Quintero's conga beats and develops into a sophisticated melange of Latin style improvisations. Offering a good portion of contemporary jazz and a dose of modern Latin jazz, El Alquimista - The Alchemist provides a new potent formula for jazz that deserves to be replicated often.
Personnel: Pete Rodriguez: trumpet; David Sanchez: tenor saxophone; Luis Perdomo: piano, Fender Rhodes; Henry Cole: drums; Ricardo Rodriguez: bass; Roberto Quintero: congas.