Young Pianist Julius Rodriguez Fusing a Music From Inside-out


In June, the pianist/drummer Julius Rodriguez launched his debut album, Let Sound Inform All, a enterprise so dynamic that even the umbrella of jazz couldn’t pretty comprise its essence. Though the fashion was completely present, the songs “All I Do” and “In Heaven” confirmed reverence for R&B and gospel — the earlier a sophisticated cowl of Stevie Marvel’s 1980 tune, the latter a piano-focused ballad rooted throughout the sound of Black church. It culminated in his ascendance from White Plains, N.Y., the place Rodriguez studied classical piano and taught himself recommendations on find out how to play drums, tagging alongside to jazz live performance occasions alongside along with his father, who drove the then-11-year-old to golf gear like Smalls whereas Thelonious Monk carried out on the automotive radio. Alongside one of the best ways he studied on the Manhattan College of Music, then Juilliard, sooner than dropping out to tour with rapper A$AP Rocky in 2018.
Rodriguez is now a rising star on the intersection of jazz, soul, hip-hop and blues, collaborating in alongside completely different multi-hyphenates like José James, Madison McFerrin and Meshell Ndegeocello. On Let Sound Inform All, by an amorphous combine that he merely calls “the music,” Rodriguez converged earlier and present with stellar outcomes, showcasing himself as a torchbearer amongst a cohort of youthful New York players bringing historic previous into the long run. People like him, vibraphonist Joel Ross and flutist/producer Melanie Charles combine typical jazz with fashionable rap, electronica and soul, nudging listeners to drop preconceived notions of what Black classical music is supposed to be. Like others sooner than them, they’re exhibiting that jazz may be edgy and expansive, not merely the backdrop for sipping overpriced drinks in cramped nightclubs. Can Rodriguez play that scene? Sure. Nonetheless his virtuosity is broader than that, transcending age and elegance, making him one of many very important well-rounded performers I’ve encountered recently.

I’ve seen Rodriguez perform 3 occasions this 12 months — at a private taping in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (above), then twice at BRIC JazzFest as a result of the chief of his private band and as lead pianist for José James’ headlining set. As chief, he’d swap between piano and drums, wading by the delicate “The place Grace Abounds” or pounding out the frenetic “Two Means Road.” Even when he wasn’t on the helm, Rodriguez nonetheless commanded the stage from the piano bench, collaborating in excellent solos with out overtaking the current’s star.
What makes him so explicit is his distinctive ability to go deeply into the music, whether or not or not it’s jazz, hip-hop, R&B, experimental, regardless of,” James instructed me not too way back. “He truly will get contained within the concept of the tune or enterprise and creates from inside it, fairly than adorning it from the floor. That may be a delicate issue nonetheless so very important. On account of it means he’s completely present throughout the second and strolling the sting of creation all the time.”

Definitely, there’s a fluidity to Rodriguez’s work, the feeling of defiance based throughout the renouncement of industry-crafted tags. Whether or not or not he’s retooling Erykah Badu cuts or setting up his private soundtrack, his artistry is limitless and Let Sound Inform All was certainly one of many strongest statements of 2022.


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