GRAMMY Award nominee Alfredo Rodríguez has rapidly risen to stardom under the tutelage of the famed producer Quincy Jones. Since arriving in the US in 2009, Rodríguez has appeared on prestigious stages such as the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl, the Gilmore Keyboard Festival, Detroit, and the Umbria and Vienna Jazz Festivals. Rodríguez’s music explores his memories of Cuba, the people and culture he left behind, and how he found his new place in the world.
Rodriguez was born in Havana in 1985 and studied at the Manuel Saumell Conservatory, and later at the Amadeo Roldan Music Conservatory. He won classical competitions in both schools.
At the age of 14, he began playing with and arranging for his father’s orchestra. Rodriguez eventually studied at Cuba’s premier school, Instituto Superior de Arte, where he also won several competitions.
In 2006, he was invited to play the Montreux Jazz Festival. The festival’s founder, Claude Nobs, requested he play privately at his home for Quincy Jones. The producer and arranger liked what he heard and wanted to work with the young pianist. It took three years for that to come to pass.
Relocating to the US, Rodriguez began working wherever he could, eventually finding his way and forming his own trio. His first collaboration with Jones was in 2009 where, at the latter’s request, he collaborated with Jones, Chinese composer Tan Dun, and songwriter Siedah Garrett to compose the English-version theme song “Better City, Better Life” for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.
The young pianist continued to wow critics and club-goers. He toured incessantly, opening for any number of jazz and popular music artists. He played not only Montreux again, but also the Playboy, Detroit, Newport, San Francisco, North Sea, Umbria, and Vienna Jazz Festivals, and in prestigious jazz clubs including Ronnie Scott’s, Yoshi’s, and The Blue Note.
In 2011, Rodriguez signed with Detroit’s jazz label Mack Avenue Records. His debut album, Sounds of Space—co-produced by the artist and Jones—was issued in 2012, winning wide critical acclaim and resulting in more touring opportunities. In the spring of 2014, Rodriguez, his trio, and notable guests issued The Invasion Parade (again co-produced with Jones), a collection of originals based on Cuban folk traditions as well as standards from his homeland.
The association with the legendary producer continued for his next Mack Avenue recording, 2016’s Tocororo (named for the Cuban bird that dies of sadness if caged), featuring guests Richard Bona, Ibrahim Maalouf and Ibeyi. In 2018, the pianist returned with his fourth studio album, A Little Dream.
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