Primary Instrument: Piano
Critically acclaimed pianist Bob Rodriguez is one of the most distinctively imaginative musicians in contemporary Jazz today. Possessing a refined virtuoso technique, extraordinary harmonic sensibility and an incomparable approach to his instrument that melds aspects of European classical and Latin music with modern Jazz, Rodriguez's performances and recordings of his own compositions and interpretations of standard material have distinguished him as a truly original pianist with his own tale to tell.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Rodriguez began studying classical piano as a child. At 15, after hearing Teddy Wilson on the radio, he was inspired to write an original blues, revealing a nascent aptitude for composition and prompting his teacher to send him to his first Jazz instructor, Hank Kahout, an expert on Wilson and Art Tatum, who was a stride piano specialist. Next, he studied privately with Bill Gidney, a bebop pianist who had accompanied Charlie Parker. Rodriguez studied harmony formally at the Modern Music School of Cleveland with Phil Rizzo (a former Stan Kenton arranger) and twelve tone composition at Baldwin Wallace University. Later, he attended Akron University, where he spent time analyzing modern classical techniques under the tutelage of Pat Pace, who had written arrangements for Miles Davis.
Rodriguez was an active player on the Cleveland Jazz circuit throughout most of his twenties, but by the mid eighties he had an opportunity to move to Houston and took it. There he played jazz and latin gigs with his trio, occasionally working with visiting luminaries such as Kenny Wheeler, Carla Bley, Steve Swallow, Billy Hart, Muhal Richard Abrams, Joe Farrell, Billy Drews and others. He was invited to teach Jazz piano at the prestigious Houston High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and in 1988 he met modern Jazz vocalist Tina Marsh, who asked him to be the pianist and composer-in-residence for her forward looking fourteen piece big band, the Creative Opportunity Orchestra. Rodriguez has been recording with Tina and her ensemble since the late 80's. He's also recorded with Tina and his trio in 1997 on their co-led disc 'Out Of Time'.
In 1989 Rodriguez moved to the New York area to study with pianist Richie Beirach, the final step on his road to developing a personal style built on very modern harmony with an exceptionally melodic approach. He performed his music with the BMI advanced composers workshop and in 1994 recorded his first date as leader, Mist, now available as an MP3 Digital Download from Art of Life Records. An album of rare beauty, it featured Rodriguez's own compositions as well as pieces by Bill Evans and Herbie Hancock, two of his primary influences. In 1998 he recorded a solo CD, Reinventions (available as an MP3 Digital Download from Art of Life Records), that includes two Chopin Preludes that he had arranged for 4 hands (with classical pianist Cathy Campbell). Since his arrival in the Jazz capitol of the world Rodriguez has performed at at the Blue Note, Birdland, Iridium, Sweet Rhythm, Cornelia Street Cafe, Trumpets, Cecil's and many others in the city. He played solo concerts at Gracie Mansion and various venues in the tri-state area and broadcast performances on NPR in Texas, Maine and New York.
In 2005, Rodriguez released Corridor (available as an MP3 Digital Download from Art of Life Records), a much praised masterwork featuring bassist Mike Richmond and drummer Eliot Zigmund. More recently he's the recipient of a 2007 grant by Chamber Music America to write a piece for Tina Marsh's innovative new 10 piece ensemble aka Creative Opportunity Orchestra. His new piece (Shrouded Heart) was created with support from Chamber Music America's New Work: Creation and Presentation Program, funded through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Shrouded Heart was performed in Austin TX June 15 2009, and at Roulette in NYC October 4th 2008.
In addition to his highly respected work as a performer, Rodriguez is a very much in demand clinician/instructor in the world of Jazz and classical music education.
Following the 2008 release of the duo recording, Ripples (Art of Life AL1034-2), with guitarist Scott Sherwood, Portraits, released in 2009, is Bob Rodriguez's fourth release as a leader and finds him in a solo piano setting. Bob performs his unique solo piano arrangements of Bill Evans Waltz for Debby, Rodgers & Hart's Spring Is Here, Kern & Hammerstein's All the Things You Are and Thelonious Monk's 'Round Midnight in addition to five of his own compositions. Portraits was recorded on July 16, 1994 at Ambient Studios in Stamford, Connecticut by recording engineer Nick Prout and mixed and mastered by A.T. Michael MacDonald. Bob Rodriguez's three previous releases as a leader, Corridor, Mist and Reinventions, are also available in the form of MP3 Digital Downloads from our MP3 Digital Download Store.
For more information on pianist Bob Rodriguez please visit his web site at www.BobRodriguez.com.
Awards:In 2007, Bob received a prestigious $15,000 grant from the Doris Duke Foundation and Chamber Music America to compose and perform a new work for Tina Marsh's innovative new 10 piece ensemble, aka Creative Opportunity Orchestra based in Austin, TX.
Recommended New Release “Portraits” April 2009 Andrey Henkin, Editorial Director, AllAboutJazz-New York.
What distinguishes Rodriguez from countless other jazz pianists covering the same material is a preference for pulling the songs into new terrain. - Cadence Magazine
Rodriguez' versatility spans the languid and the stormy; the trio evokes the Bill Evans-Scott LaFaro-Paul Motion group... impressionistic bop to romping post bop... - Midwest Jazz Magazine
'In addition to a clear classical delicacy in Rodriguez's stylistic touch, there is an underlying strength within the twists and turns of his voicings and the textures he develops with bassist Mike Richmond and drummer Eliot Zigmund. The end product is an intriguing trio sound that is, largely, unlike anything on the scene.' **** Will Smith, Down Beat Magazine
'With 'Corridor' Bob Rodriguez takes his place among such lyrical keyboard artists as Keith Jarrett, Richie Beirach, Fred Hersch and Brad Mehldau.' Berman Jazz Music Foundation/Tom Ineck
***(*) Mist, A rewarding and idiosyncratic addition to the piano-trio literature... Rodriguez has a lovely touch ... - The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD
Praise for Bob Rodriguez and Portraits - Pianist 'Bob Rodriguez is that rara avis, even in jazz, a constantly interesting improviser. “When playing in a solo situation,” he says, “you are committed after the first note. You are ‘in the music’ and you just go with it.” Rodriguez has a kind of inner GPS that plots his musical ventures unerringly. His new release, the solo album Portraits, beautifully refashions the harmonics of well-known ballads and originals, including a nod to one of his favorite l9th composer-improvisers, Frederic Chopin (“Frederico”). No mere technocrat of the music, Rodriguez, balances a delicacy of touch with a passionate sense of discovery. Bob Rodriguez is a musician’s musician, and a listener’s delight'.
by Linda Dahl
Linda Dahl is the author of a number of acclaimed books about jazz, including Haunted Heart and Morning Glory. Most recently, she wrote about the jazz pianists Hazel Scott and Dorothy Donegan for a forthcoming collection by Harvard University Press.
Fish Cannot Leave Deep Waters
Unseen Rain Records
Bob Rodriguez Lee Marvin Kresten Osgood
Fish Cannot Leave Deep Waters
Unseen Rain Records
Art of Life Records
Things I Meant To Say
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Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students
I have given Master Classes in Jazz Piano and improvisation at Julliard, and in schools throughout the New York area. Wheaton College in Norton Mass., University of Texas, and many other colleges and high schools as part of a tour. I also teach online, where a pianist can either send me a piece that they are working via an email attachment, or by mail . The student states on what their goals are and then I make comments on their interpretation. I then play the same piece using their ideas and goals as my basis for an arrangement. I send the student either by email or mail, the music and recording of my arrangement of their piece plus an explanation of what I have done. Students have enjoyed this approach because they can keep an extensive file on lessons and track of their progress. I also teach via Skype. For more information, please visit my website:www.bobrodriguez.com
Master Classes in Jazz Piano Styles. Starting from Ragtime and playing and talking about the most influential jazz pianists of the 20th century.