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A major composer and bassist, Mauricio J. Rodriguez has spent important periods living and playing music in Cuba, Venezuela and (since 2001) the United States. For his latest recording, Luz, Rodriguez is heard on six-string E-bass, his fretless E-bass and the standard string bass, contributing four of the ten selections, and arranging all of the music. In addition to his originals, the ensemble also performs four songs by the Venezuelan composer Vicente Viloria (who is the project’s co-producer) and two standards. The results invigorate Latin jazz with lighter-than-expected ensembles, subtle but virtuosic solos, and new rich melodies.

Luz begins with Viloria’s “Casualty,” a warm but somber melody with prominent spots for saxophonist Jorge Pinelo and pianist Gabriel Hernández Cadenas. The leader’s “Monday” is an energetic romp with saxophonist Zachary Bornheimer and keyboardist Cadenas engaging in some colorful interplay. The mood changes for “Es el Amor,” a dreamy ballad that features the beautiful and clear voice of Adrianna Foster along with cellist José Pradas. Additional variety is offered with Rodriguez’s “Tuesday,” a complex piece worthy of Chick Corea that puts the spotlight on Bornheimer’s soprano. 

Mauricio Rodriguez the bassist emerges on Chucho Valdés’ “Claudia,” displaying impressive technique and creative ideas during his showcase. Rodriguez’s bass is also a major contributor to the atmospheric “Luz” which has a vocal by Jorge Quintero and he contributes “Wednesday,” a ballad that is quite cinematic. His “Danzón No. 1, Opus 1 con Chá” has the lead taken by clarinetist José M. Sardinas and is a fresh take on the Cuban national dance. Adrianna Foster returns for a duet version of “My Funny Valentine” with the bassist before Luz concludes with the joyful “Vocalize” which has some particularly inventive playing from pianist Cadenas.

Mauricio J. Rodriguez was born and raised in Cuba. He was a member of the Fervet Opus jazz quartet, a significant group that toured the world and appeared at many festivals. After moving to Venezuela in 1994 with the string quintet Union, Rodriguez played with the Aragua Symphony Orchestra and taught at the Aragua Conservatory. In 2001 he relocated to the U.S. where he has since worked with Guisando Caliente Latin Jazz, Fusion Beat, and ensembles led by Nestor Torres, Marty Morell, Renesito Avich, Daniel Giron, and Tomasito Cruz among others. His compositions have been performed around the world including by symphony orchestras and he is the Composer-in-Residence of The Miami Symphony Orchestra and The Miami International Academy of the Bass.

Luz is filled with memorable themes and contrasting moods, giving listeners strong examples of Mauricio J. Rodriguez’s talents as both a bassist and an arranger-composer. It expands the world of Latin jazz.

Track listing 

1. Casualty (Vicente Viloria) 4:37 

2. Monday (Mauricio J. Rodriguez) 6:32 

3. Es el Amor (Vicente Viloria) 4:03 

4. Tuesday (Mauricio J. Rodriguez) 4:24 

5. Claudia (Jesús “Chucho” Valdés) 4:47 

6. Luz (Vicente Viloria) 3:45 

7. Wednesday (Mauricio J. Rodriguez) 5:47 

8. Danzón No. 1 Opus 1 con Chá (Mauricio J. Rodriguez) 4:20 

9. My Funny Valentine (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart) 4:37 

10. Vocalize (Vicente Viloria) 4:02 

Total CD Time: 46 min 57 sec

Musicians: All Arrangements, Six Strings E. Bass, Fretless E. Bass, and Double Bass: Mauricio J. Rodriguez; Vocals: Adrianna Foster, Jorge Quintero, Big Johnny Boffa; Pianos: Gabriel M. Hernández Cadenas; Guitar: Ahmed Barroso; Saxophones: Zachary Bornheimer and Jorge Pinelo; Clarinet: José M. Sardiñas; Trumpet: Richie Viruet; Violoncello: José Pradas; Drums: Reinier Guerra and Lucio Vieira; Udú, Afro-Percussion, Timbal, and Cuban Percussion: Orlando “Landy” Mosqueda; Batá Drums: Tomasito Cruz; Cajón: Andy Fornet

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