Bob Rodriguez

Corridor

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In the 21st century, jazz continues to be plagued by some truly ridiculous ideologues. At one extreme are the myopic bop snobs who believe that all post-'50s jazz styles are without merit. At the other extreme are those who believe that every jazz artist who comes along must become an innovator -- an expectation that is foolish and unrealistic. But truth be told, jazz has room for both traditional and experimental artists; both have their place as long as the artist is good at what he/she does -- and while Corridor is hardly the most original or groundbreaking CD in the world, this 2004 recording demonstrates that Bob Rodriguez is good at what he does. Forming an acoustic bop/post-bop trio with bassist Mike Richmond and drummer Eliot Zigmund, Rodriguez favors a crystalline style of piano playing along the lines of Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, and pre-'70s, Blue Note-era Herbie Hancock; Rodriguez has also cited Richie Beirach as a pianistic influence, and the traditional piano trio format serves him well on four original compositions as well as performances of John Coltrane's "Naima" (which is given an impressionistic treatment), Duke Ellington's "Prelude to a Kiss," and Rodgers & Hart's "Spring Is Here." Rodriguez also turns his attention to a classical piece -- violinist Fritz Kreisler's Liebesleid -- and reminds listeners how nicely a classical melody can lend itself to a jazz makeover. Of course, it's no secret that many jazz improvisers are classically trained; there are plenty of jazz artists who could easily spend hours talking about Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, or Fryderyc Chopin. But Rodriguez demonstrates that he can do more than simply talk about Euro-classical music -- he can actually use a classical piece as a vehicle for jazz improvisation. This 2004 date falls short of exceptional, but it's a decent and satisfying demonstration of Rodriguez's bop and post-bop talents.

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