Alfredo Rodriguez

Label: Mack Avenue
Format: CD
Barcode: 0673203110922
Catalog number: MAC 1109
Releasedate: 26-03-16
- Cuban music by pianist and composer Alfredo Rodríguez and band

- Ibrahim Maalouf on trumpet on track 6 and 10

Each recording by Cuban pianist and composer Alfredo Rodríguez tells a story. in Tocororo—his new album for Mack Avenue Records—Rodríguez’s story is represented by the national bird of Cuba. The Tocororo is a bird that if caged dies of sadness, reflecting not only the desire for liberty but the necessity of it.
Each recording by Cuban pianist and composer Alfredo Rodríguez tells a story. His albums are not collections of musical pieces but tales told in a distinctive voice, with a distinct point of view and purpose. His 2011 debut, Sounds of Space, served as an introduction, as a way of saying “here are the people, the places and the sounds that have surrounded me, and made me who I am,” he explained then. In The Invasion Parade, his 2014 follow-up, Rodríguez revisited various Cuban musical traditions, seen through the prism of time, distance, and his new personal and musical experiences. Now, in Tocororo—his new album for Mack Avenue Records—Rodríguez’s story is represented by the national bird of Cuba. The Tocororo is a bird that if caged dies of sadness, reflecting not only the desire for liberty but the necessity of it. Beyond this facet of meaning, there is also the story of everything else the bird represents: freedom, travel and cross-pollination. In Rodríguez’s case, it represents the crosspollination of his Cuban culture with all the cultures he’s experienced throughout his musical journey. “What I wanted to do in this recording was to open myself up to the world, while honoring my roots at the same time,” he says. “That’s also why I wanted to collaborate with artists of other nationalities and explore other cultures. I play what I live, and this record expresses what I’m living. And right now with social media and technology, I’m living in a very small world with countries now being able to see what other countries are doing—influencing each other—and hopefully Cuba will have that kind of freedom soon. Things are changing over there, but slowly. It’s a process.” Aided by a group of collaborators that includes musicians from France, Cuba, Lebanon, Cameroon, Spain and India—Rodríguez has recruited a diverse range of artists to stretch the boundaries on his new genrespanning record. GRAMMY® Award-nominated Cameroonian singer and multi-instrumentalist Richard Bona appears with his own African-tinged interpretation of Eliseo Grenet’s “Ay, Mama Inés.” Ibrahim Maalouf, the trumpeter born in Beirut and now living in Paris, also appears on Silvio Rodríguez’s “Venga La Esperanza.” The French-Cuban duo Ibeyi (comprising twin sisters Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz) are featured vocalizing on “Yemayá,” an original song to the Yoruba deity of water, but also singing lyrics in “Sabanas Blancas.” The sisters, who were raised in France, were born to legendary Cuban percussionist Miguel “Angá” Díaz—best known for his work with Buena Vista Social Club. Rodríguez holds on to his Cuban roots as he stretches to embrace Johann Sebastian Bach (“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”), flamenco, tango (Astor Piazzolla’s “Adiós Nonino”) and Africa. “I didn´t want to lose my identity,” says Rodríguez. “If I was going to reflect influences from so many places, I also wanted to make sure that Cuba was present. Cuba is always in my music.” Such global vision also speaks to the influence of producer Quincy Jones, the executive producer of Tocororo and a key figure in Rodríguez’s remarkable story. In 2006, Rodríguez was selected to play at the Montreux Jazz Festival where, at an informal gathering during the Festival, Jones heard him play, congratulated him and told him he wanted to work with him. The encounter set in motion a chain of events that resulted, three years later, in Rodríguez leaving Cuba and settling in Los Angeles. “I’ve fed on a lot of Quincy’s philosophy about global culture, unity and brotherhood,” says Rodríguez. “It’s something I really admire and I think, unconsciously, I’ve been following those ideas. What you hear is not just the idea of globalization but also the transcultural process I’ve been living since I arrived in the United States. This recording is the result of that process.” As a musical guide, “Quincy proved to be extremely open and generous,” he says. “He never imposes his ideas but lets each musician find and choose their own path.”