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The New York jazz scene is virtually awash these days with sibling pairings of extremely talented young musicians, including the Rodriguez Brothers. Trumpeter Michael and pianist Robert have already earned excellent reputations as highly skilled players for their sideman work; on Conversations, the two prove themselves to be equally capable as composers and co-leaders of their own group, here with Carlos Henriquez and Ricardo Rodriguez splitting bass duties and Antonio Sanchez on drums.
Tenor saxophonist David Sanchez guests on two tracks, but the date is primarily a quartet outing, a somewhat rare configuration for a trumpet-featured group, but one that clearly exhibits the brotherly simpatico and broad harmonic palette they share, giving the unit an impressively large sound that belies its small size. Michael's hard-bopping opener, "Rowdy Rod, displays the influence of Woody Shaw, while Robert's "Guayaquil pays homage to his Latin roots with its Ecuadorian cumbia rhythm. The rest of the date is equally varied. Robert's "Lerida is a beautifully moving jazz waltz sharply contrasted by Michael's incendiary "Rude Awakening, on which Sanchez's burning tenor joins the frontline.
"Spin, composed by Robert, again shows off his sophisticated use of rhythms with its shifting odd meters, while the fugue-like "Intro To Conversations reveals his strong classical background. The title track, by Michael, flows nicely from the prelude and pays tribute to another major influence, trumpeter Tom Harrell. Saxophonist Sanchez rejoins the group for Robert's "Midnight Excursion, a swinging jaunt on top of a Puerto Rican bomba rhythm. The date ends fittingly with an arrangement of the Cuban classic, "El Manicero ("The Peanut Vendor ), on which Michael's muted horn and Robert's spacious chords confirm an original outlook towards the Latin and jazz traditions.
Track Listing: Rowdy Rod; Guayaquil; Lerida; Rude Awakenings; Spin; Intro To Conversations; Conversations; Midnight Excursion; El Manicero (The Peanut Vendor).
Personnel: Robert Rodriguez: piano; Michael Rodriguez: trumpet, flugelhorn; David Sanchez: tenor saxophone (4, 8); Carlos Henriquez: bass (1, 3, 4, 7, 8); Ricardo Rodriguez: bass (2, 5, 6, 9); Antonio Sanchez: drums.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.