“Combining a consistently gentle touch with animated right-hand melodic work and a clever harmonic sense, Rodriguez is also a remarkable composer whose works are often reminiscent of Bill Evan’s understated grace.”Hot House/Spotlight/Seton Hawkins
|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 spent time analyzing modern classical techniques under the tutelage of classical/jazz pianist Pat Pace.
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. He was invited to teach jazz piano at the 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 fourteen piece big band, the Creative Opportunity Orchestra, occasionally working with visiting luminaries such as Kenny Wheeler, Carla Bley, Steve Swallow, Billy Hart and others. 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”, for the Nine Winds label. 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”, on the CreOp Muse label 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 the Blue Note, Birdland, Iridium, Sweet Rhythm, The Kitano, 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 a trio CD entitled “Corridor” a featuring bassist Mike Richmond and drummer Eliot Zigmund.
In 2007 Bob was the recipient of a 2007 commission by Chamber Music America to write a piece for Tina Marsh and the 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” premiered in Austin Texas June 13, 2008, and at Roulette in NYC October 4th, 2008.
In November 2008 Bob released a duo recording entitled “Ripples” with the jazz guitarist Scott Sherwood on the Art of Life Records label. “Portraits”, released in the spring of 2009, is Bob Rodriguez’s fourth release as a leader and finds him in a solo piano setting. Fish Cannot Leave Deep Waters” released in the spring of 2012 featuring bassist Lee Marvin and Drummer Kresten Osgood. “Things I Meant To Say” released during the fall of 2012 featuring bassist Lee Marvin and drummer Bruce Ditmas. “So In Love” is being released sometine in 2013 featuring bassist Dominic Duval and drummer Jay Rosen.
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.