The Hope College Great Performance Series will present an evening of Cuban jazz with the Rodriguez/Martinez Duo on Friday, Jan. 24, at 7:30 p.m. in the Concert Hall of the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts.
With a Grammy-nominated album of his own, percussionist Pedrito Martinez is in demand by artists ranging from Wynton Marsalis to Bruce Springsteen. Martinez honed his craft on the streets of Havana, learning the deeply-rooted percussion and vocal style of Afro-Cuban folkloric and religious music. 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. Martinez 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-nominated album released in 2013 on Motéma Music. NPR’s All Things Considered has said that “The Pedrito Martinez Group is writing a new chapter in Cuban music history.”
Pianist Alfredo 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. NPR has also noted that “Alfredo Rodríguez is a figurehead of the new generation of Cuban jazz musicians who observe and honor their roots while constantly seeking new avenues for expression.”
The first duo recording by the artists, “Duologue,” finds the pair exploring a range of moods and influences, from Cuban classics to collaborative original compositions to a number of unexpected favorites. Jazz Times Magazine raved about the recording, saying “the true beauty of Duologue is the sheer joy that spills forth from every note that Rodríguez and Martinez play together. Their styles blend to create songs with aching lyricism, watercolor soundscapes that are driven by captivating mambo grooves.”
Individual tickets are $23 for regular admission, $17 for senior citizens, and $6 for children 18 and under. Tickets are available at the Events and Conferences Office located downtown in the Anderson-Werkman Financial Center (100 E. Eighth St.). The office is open for ticket sales weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be called at 616-395-7890.
The Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts is located at 221 Columbia Ave., on Columbia Ave. between Ninth and 10th streets.