A plethora of musical sights and sounds were on display to an eager crowd as the Alfredo Rodriguez Trio performed at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center Friday evening. 

Audience members were led into a large blue-and-red-lighted room with a variety of different sized hanging light bulbs suspended above a small stage. The ambiance was akin to an intimate café setting, accompanied by small tables with dimmed lights sitting atop.

At the piano was Alfredo Rodriguez with assistance from bass player Peter Slavov and drummer Henry Cole. The show ran for 70 minutes with no intermission, the first at showing taking place at 7 p.m., then another at 9 p.m. The length allowed for a wide range of classical music.

Pianist Rodriguez led the performances. The Cuban-born musician played a combination of songs from his album, The Invasion Parade released in 2014, and his 2016 album, Tocororo filled with popular jazz hits and various ad libbed harmonies. The integration of classical jazz music with his Cuban flare earned Rodriguez applause from the audience throughout every set.

Alfredo Rodriguez. (Photo taken by Miguel Elizalde)
Alfredo Rodriguez. (Photo taken by Miguel Elizalde)

Rodriguez was discovered in 2007 at the Montreux Jazz Festival, going on to perform in jazz festivals and musical showcases around the world. His most recent accomplishment came this past year when he was nominated for a 2015 Grammy award for “Best Arrangement, Instrumental, or A Cappella” for the composition of “The Invasion Parade.”

The audience watched in fascination as Rodriguez improvised most of his set, occasionally singing a few bars or jumping from one end of the piano to the other with only one hand. It seemed as if Rodriguez was simultaneously playing every key of the piano all at once in ordered chaos. Despite the agility of his motions, the music produced seemed absolutely effortless and pure.  

Rodriguez’s personality shown throughout his set; it was clear that his infectious actions positively affected his fellow musicians, as often the men would look to the pianist for guidance throughout songs. It was apparent  the men were having a good time, affecting the overall vibe of the audience.

Many students and members of the community jumped at the opportunity to see Rodriguez live. Freshman biology major Summer Nevins said,“I thought the show was perfect. It was almost magical the way the lights and the band played. I’m so happy that I came out.”

Emily Delinski, a freshman psychology major, was also grateful for the opportunity to see Rodriguez perform. “It was like he was telling a story through his music. I honestly felt transported when I was there, like I didn’t feel like I was in the room anymore. It was really a cool show.”

Telling a story through music is what Rodriguez aims to do. About mid-way through his set he addressed the audience, thanking his supporters and elaborating on why he loved to play music, and how he wanted his set to represent the beauty in song. Specifically, he spoke of his newer album Tocororo and how he hopes that it stands as “a metaphor for [his] music in a lot of ways,” as the name represents a popular, free-spirited Cuban bird.

One thing is for certain: By integrating his eccentric and playful songs into a traditionally rigid style of music, Rodriguez made sure his performance exceeded the standards of any classical music connoisseur.

Featured Photo Credit: Musician Alfredo Rodriguez. (Photo taken by Anna Webber)

Shelby Soliwoda is a freshman broadcast journalism major and may be reached at ssoliwoda@aol.com.

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