Pete Rodriguez


Son of salsa singer Pete “El Conde” Rodriguez and godson of composer Johnny Pacheco, trumpeter Pete Rodriguez has the joyous kineticism of Latin jazz in his blood. Having begun his career as part of Pacheco’s salsa scene, Rodriguez went on to appear as a sideman with Celia Cruz and Eddie Palmieri.

As a bandleader, it may have seemed the obvious choice to simply continue this legacy in Latin jazz, but his latest offering, Obstacles, takes a more introspective approach to composition. Produced as a means of displaying Rodriguez’s aptitude for straightahead jazz as much as Latin variants, and also as a response to the titular obstacles of prejudice he has faced, the result is an enjoyable and playfully subversive collection.

Opening with an ode to his 50th birthday while riffing on John Coltrane’s “Moment’s Notice,” Rodriguez locks in with John Ellis’ tenor lines on “50” to provide a melodically inventive take on the upbeat standard. The modal “Abraham,” meanwhile, descends from a medium-tempo swing into a languid, thoughtful solo from Luis Perdomo on Rhodes.

In the time-honoured fashion of turning life’s struggles into art, Obstacles reminds us that sometimes our most fraught experiences can provide the best inspirations.

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