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Music Review: Claudio Roditi — Simpatico

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For the sake of the music.

The worst affliction to befall a middle aged man is the conviction to follow his passion. Reason, nuclear family norms, the Protestant Ethic, and the principle of Compound Interest all are aligned against him. To both sides lie possibilities. The successful young stand like State Lottery Commission advertisements or a Hollywood against-the-odds movie of a stubborn individual who, after much suffering and loss, is redeemed with a fat, retirement-saving payday. The middle-aged apprentice stands in a chasm of anonymity watching as record companies bestow the young, beautiful, charming, and talented with contracts and companies who actually distribute their recordings.

On the other side of the young is the status of Living Legend. These are the hardiest of souls. After weathering decades of neglect, the Living Legend has honed his skills and become a living repository of his passion. Claudio Roditi, writer, arranger, trumpet player, jazz musician, is stepping into that role. After having been on the scene for over 34 years, through 14 critically acclaimed recordings, the trumpet player has released Simpatico, a collection of 12 original recordings that blend Brazilian music and jazz.

A striking technician of powerful lyricism, Roditi fine tunes the laid-back tempo of Spring Samba as the band plays it straight, laying space for the punch of his trumpet. A lesson in Bossa Nova tempo, Alfitude, is a tribute to the Brazilian composer and musician, Johnny Alf, and is a lush interweaving of Michael Dease’s trombone and Roditi’s horn. Another stand-out, A Dream for Kristen, a song dedicated to his wife, is Roditi at his warmest, with his slow roll blow balanced with the crisp guitar of Romero Lubambo.

Those familiar with the Miles Davis inspired West Coast Cool sound of the 50s know it was a reaction to the frenetic pace of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie’s bop. Pacific Jazz, the major label and distributor of the West Coast sound, was cheaper to buy than the other labels and made its way into South America where it found a receptive audience particularly in Brazil. Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker were among the jazz musicians who became popular in Brazil and who in turn laid there sounds over Brazilian inspired rhythms. Roditi then, is the next piece of this hemispheric musical flow, taking his Cool inspired sound and his quest for Brazilian tempo perfection into the jazz capital of the world, New York. In releasing Simpatico, Resonance Records, (release 2/10/10) goes against the hyper-cautious mindset permeating the jazz world to give the veteran Roditi a platform to claim his place among the best.

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About Earl G. Lundquist