As we approach the last quarter of the year we look back at the Latin Jazz releases so far and realize it has been a good year. Bassist Carlos Henriquez started it all off with “Dizzy Con Clave”, Gino Castillo’s “GC and The Cuban Cowboys”, Siguarajazz’ “De Pelicula”, Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintets “The Rhythm of Invention”, Machito Jr. & Cubology’s “For My Grandsons”, Gunther Bruck’s “Entre Amigos” as top candidates for best of the year.
Joining this elite list is an artist I discovered on YouTube with the song “55th” just a month ago. Even more amazing was that Latinos Unidos asked me to review the latest recording by trombonist/composer/producer John Rodriguez from Chicago, Illinois, who is originally from Puerto Rico. That first track I heard, “55th”, featured Roman Filiu O’Reilly (ex-Irakere) on sax, Juan Carlos Montiel on trumpet, Jesse ‘Timbalon’ Perez on congas, Yendrys Cespedes on piano and drummer Abi Robles as soloists. Upon listening to the rest on John Rodriguez CD “Brutal” I was blown away how each track featured many of the members of the band. The best way of describing this CD, that lives up to the title of the recording, is a jam session from beginning to end.
As I listened to each track on YouTube I also came across John’s 2005 debut as part of the band “Latin Inspiration”. John Rodriguez has been involved in the music industry for 30 years and the talent shows in his work. Just listen to “Brutal” and you will agree that this will be one of the best of 2019 and on many wish lists. While each song is a hit I quickly fell in love with my favorites “Johnny’s Place” written by the keyboardist Edwin Sanchez that also features a swinging trumpet solo by Jesus Alonso (currently with Juan Luis Guerra y 4.40) and the track “Café Cubano” with Jesus Alonso on trumpet. John on trombone, Alfredo Thompson on sax, pianist Kendrys Cespedes, Jesse Perez on timbales and guest conguero Roberto Quintero.
Add to this the selections “London Groove”, “Zansibar 2020”, “Key West” and “55th” and you have a Top 10 Latin Jazz CD of 2019 and a new star in John Rodriguez.