Alfredo Rodriguez: Duologue

Chris Mosey By

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Alfredo Rodriguez is the classically trained son of Cuban singer/composer "Alfredito" Rodriguez. In 2009, he accompanied his father on a concert tour of Mexico, decided not to return to his homeland, and asked for political asylum in the U.S. Once there, he began a music career aided by veteran producer Quincy Jones. In 2015, he won a Grammy nomination for his arrangement of the classic Latin American folk song "Guantanamera" at the 57th GRAMMY Awards.

Pedrito Martinez is a drummer and singer who learned his craft on the streets of the Cayo Hueso neighborhood of Old Havana before coming to the U.S. in 1998 and settling in New York. He is a founding member of the band Yerba Buena and part of the Nuevo Jazz Latino program of Jazz at Lincoln Center. His 2016 solo album, Habano Dreams (Motéma Music) featured guest performances by Wynton Marsalis and John Scofield. Rodriguez and Martinez two first worked together on Rodriguez's 2014 album The Invasion Parade (Mack Avenue), finding they had much in common despite their different musical backgrounds.

"Africa," the opening track on Rodriguez and Martinez's collaboration Duologue, sets the tone for the album with its self-conscious but interesting homage to the roots of their music. "Estamos Llegando (We Are Coming)" contains echoes of Rodriguez's classical training, notably his studies of Bach and Stravinsky. "Super Mario Bros 3, " with Rodriguez on Fender Rhodes piano, comes on like a video game: fast, quirky, a bit neurotic, amusing, and clever, but possibly grating with repeated listening.

"Mariposa (Butterfly)" and "Yo Volvere (I'll Come Back)" are mainstream Afro-Cuban songs, quietly authentic and happy, minus all the frenetic conga rattling accompanying the music when Dizzy Gillespie first unleashed Chano Pozo on unsuspecting beboppers in the '50s. Yet the duo's treatment of "Thriller," the title track of Michael Jackson's album (Epic/CBS, 1982, which sold a breathtaking 66 million copies worldwide) is the most interesting track on the album, though it comes from a very different source.

Track Listing: Africa; Estamos Llegando; Thriller; Cosas Del Amor; Duologue; El Punto Cubano; Flor; Jardín Soñador; Super Mario Bros 3; Mariposa; Yo Volveré.

Personnel: Alfredo Rodriguez: keyboards, vocals; Pedrito Martinez: percussion, vocals.

Title: Duologue | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Mack Avenue Records

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