Alfredo Rodriguez Trio, “Chan Chan” from Tocororo: Something Else! Exclusive Stream

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Long before the recent thaw in relations that’s bringing a U.S. president to spend a couple of days in this Caribbean island nation for the first time in nearly a century, Cuba’s rich cultural heritage has undeniably informed America’s. One of the latest examples of this is the rising star pianist from Havana, Alfredo Rodriguez.

Rodriguez was sufficiently dazzling back at the 2006 Montreaux Jazz Festival to compel Quincy Jones to offer to work with him shorty after watching him perform for the first time. This eventually led to Rodriguez’s third album Tocororo, produced by both Rodriguez and Jones, and now on sale from Mack Avenue Records.

If nothing else, Tocororo demonstrates to American audiences that music from Cuban musicians isn’t some monolithic, homgenous style that’s restricted by a certain rhythm, chords or instrumentation. Rodriquez is a composer in his own right, but also takes on Compay Segundo’s “Chan Chan” — made famous by the Buena Vista Social Club — with just his piano, the stand-up bass of Reinier ‘El Negron’ Elizarde and bongos from Michael Olivera. No brass, no lyrics. And no problem.

In fact, Rodriguez performs with a banged-up, out-of-tune upright piano. And just like his hometown, sometimes called “the world’s most beautiful ruins,” there’s a compelling, simple charm he wrings from this piano that’s as undeniable as the weathered ’55 Bel Airs lumbering around downtown Havana.


composed by Compay Segundo
Alfredo Rodriguez – Piano
Reinier ‘El Negron’ Elizarde – Bass
Michael Olivera – Bongos

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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