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AVAILABLE NOW: Alfredo Rodriguez & Pedrito Martinez’s “Duologue”

Out Today on Mack Avenue Records:
Cuba’s Most Exciting and Innovative Artists,
Alfredo Rodriguez & Pedrito Martinez,
Release Critically Acclaimed Duo Album, Duologue
Album Featured by
North American Tour Kicks Off February 2
They combine their impressive musical talents on an album that demonstrates
how flexible those traditions can be when matched with visionary musicians
and a seemingly boundless innovative spirit.” – NPR Music
“…they’ve channeled a common passion for their homeland and cross-cultural mastery into tight,
catchy and deceptively dense songs that work the way good pop music should.” – Wall Street Journal
“When running down the names of notable and somewhat recent Cuban exports in the jazz realm, Alfredo Rodriguez and Pedrito Martinez both rank at the top of the list.” – All About Jazz
“Both are lauded for their virtuosic performances, but each bring
two uniquely rich worlds to the musical table.” – DownBeat
Painted in the broadest of strokes, the stories of Alfredo Rodriguez and Pedrito Martinez may seem similar: both started life in Havana, discovered their gifts and passions for music and headed to the States, where they melded the music of their homeland with a wide variety of influences, each in his own deeply personal way.
Zoom in a little, though, and the two paths differ considerably. Rodriguez was born into a musical family, his father a popular singer and TV host. A child prodigy, he studied classical piano at the prestigious Conservatorio Amadeo Roldán and Instituto Superior de Arte while playing popular music in his father’s orchestra by night. While performing at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2006 he was discovered by his future mentor and producer, the legendary Quincy Jones.
Martinez, on the other hand, honed his craft on the streets of Havana, learning the deeply-rooted percussion and vocal style of Afro-Cuban folkloric and religious music. Nearly a decade Rodriguez’s senior, the master percussionist and vocalist arrived in the U.S. in 1998, was soon awarded First Place at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Afro-Latin Hand Drum Competition, and appeared in the documentary film, Calle 54. He then co-founded a Latin fusion group, Yerba Buena, with which he toured extensively and recorded several successful albums. Pedrito has performed or recorded with Wynton Marsalis, Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Angelique Kidjo, Chucho Valdés, and James Taylor. He has been leader of his own quartet since 2005 with a GRAMMY® Award-nominated album released in 2013 on Motéma Music.
As a result of their differences, Rodriguez and Martinez share a natural chemistry that makes for a galvanizing musical experience when they come together. Their first duo outing, Duologue (available now via Mack Avenue Records), finds the pair exploring a range of moods and influences, from Cuban classics to collaborative original compositions to a number of unexpected favorites.
Despite their shared Cuban roots, Rodriguez and Martinez didn’t cross paths until both had moved to the States. The pianist caught a set by the always-thrilling Pedrito Martinez Group at a jazz festival and instantly knew he wanted to work with the percussionist. “There are times when you feel something and know that you want to collaborate with someone,” Rodriguez explains. “That was one of those occasions.”
The first opportunity for the two to team up came with the recording of Rodriguez’s second album for Mack Avenue, The Invasion Parade, on which Martinez’s stirring vocals and virtuosic percussion appear on two tracks. Busy schedules kept them on separate paths for the next several years, until they reconvened for a stint at New York City’s Jazz Standard and a short tour in early 2017, their first chance to test the waters as a duo.
“What makes this duo completely different is that I came from the folkloric side and Alfredo came from the classical side,” Martinez says. “You put those things together and you come out with an extraordinary and different sound. Alfredo has brilliant ideas when he’s composing and putting together melodies, and it was so easy to mix and absorb his ideas and vice versa. Each song has a different sound and history.”
Most of the original pieces on the album originated with Rodriguez, who would record rough demos on his phone, then send the files to Martinez to compose lyrics and rhythmic patterns. The tunes were further solidified in true collaboration between Rodriguez and Martinez during a weeklong rehearsal period in Los Angeles prior to recording, then polished by veteran producer Quincy Jones. The broad sweep of rhythmic frameworks Martinez brings to the original compositions reflects not only his Afro-Cuban roots but also the range of influences that have impacted him in NYC, whether it’s reggae, 1970s R&B, jazz or funk.
“Every artist on the planet would be lucky to work with Quincy,” Martinez enthuses. “Just having his name on any record is like a trampoline: you don’t go step by step, but you automatically jump five steps up.”
“Since the beginning, my collaboration with Pedrito has been very exciting,” Rodriguez concludes. “Even though we come from different backgrounds, the energy we share, the passion for what we do, and the respect we have for each other has been beautiful.” Adds Martinez, “It was an amazing experience and a pleasure to work with Alfredo because he’s a great human being. The way he plays and the way he composes are unique and amazing.”
Alfredo Rodriguez + Pedrito Martinez Tour Dates:
Feb. 2 / MCG Jazz / Pittsburgh, PA
Feb. 7 / LRW Hall (Kimball Ballroom) / Columbia, MO
Feb. 8 / Walton Arts Center / Fayetteville, AR
Feb. 15 / Jefferson Center / Roanoke, VA
Feb. 16 / KC Jazz Club (Kennedy Center) / Washington, DC
Feb. 17 / FlynnSpace / Burlington, VT
Feb. 22 – 23 / North Carolina State University / Raleigh, NC
Feb. 24 / Weisiger Theatre (Norton Center) / Danville, KY
Feb. 28 – March 3 / Jazz Standard / New York, NY
March 8 / Symphony Center / Chicago, IL
March 9 / Lakewood Cultural Center / Lakewood, CO
March 10 / Argyros Performing Arts Center / Ketchum, ID
March 12 – 13 / The Loft (UC San Diego) / La Jolla, CA (SECOND SHOW ADDED)
March 14 / Kuumbwa Jazz Center / Santa Cruz, CA
March 15 / Virginia G. Piper Theater (Scottsdale Center) / Scottsdale, AZ
March 16 / Jo Long Theatre / San Antonio, TX
May 4 / New Orleans Jazz Festival / New Orleans, LA
May 10 / Sanders Theatre / Cambridge, MA
May 11 / Stratus Vineyards / Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON
May 18 / Vermont Jazz Center / Brattleboro, VT