|Like many jazz players, the Cleveland-born Rodriguez cut his teeth on classical music. But, at 15, a Teddy Wilson record he heard on the radio inspired him to write a blues. He took the piece to his classical teacher, who promptly told him there was nothing she could do for him and sent him to a teacher who was an expert on Wilson and Art Tatum. From that time on, Rodriguez was taught by men who spent time with the icons of jazz - an arranger for Stan Kenton, another who had arranged for Miles Davis, a pianist who had accompanied Charlie Parker. Although a committed jazz player, Rodriguez has also had a continuing interest in the broader reaches of 20th century classical music and he studied modern composition with a desciple of Pierre Boulez.
At 28, Rodriguez took a trio he had formed and moved to Houston, where he and his two side men provided backup support to such touring stars as Joe Farrell, Pharoah Sanders and Freddy Hubbard. While in Texas, he was also the featured painist and composer for the 13-piece Creative Opportunity Orchestra, led by vocalist Tina Marsh.
Rodriguez then moved to New York where he developed what he calls "long form" - bringing to jazz a harmonic structure that descends from such 20th Century classical composers as Schoenberg, Bartok, and Ives. His interest in reharmonization is reflected in every cut of his new Nine Winds CD, MIST. Of the standards, three are by jazz compsers - Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans and Michael Legrand - and one is by a classical composer, via Broadway, Alexander Borodin.
"MIST is exciting, moody, experimental and always musical. Bob Rodriguez is the kind of pianist-composer that keeps the jazz art form moving ahead." - Radio WTJU-FM