"To me," Roditi remarks, "the main difference of this album from everything else I have done is that for the very first time these are all my compositions, all twelve of them. There are some new pieces, some a little older, but these are mostly things I haven't recorded, and some of them I haven't played live."
There also are some other new wrinkles on Simpatico. For instance, on "Piccolo Blues," Roditi plays an instrument that is relatively new to him and quite uncommon in jazz, the tiny piccolo trumpet. "It's about a year and a half that I've been fooling around with the piccolo trumpet," he notes. "It's a hard instrument to get a nice sound on, but little by little I've been learning and playing it more and more. I wrote this song in a comfortable range for the piccolo trumpet, and it's my 'introduction.' In other words, I was introducing myself to the instrument with this song."
And while most of the tracks on Simpatico find him in quintet settings, Roditi revisits "Slow Fire," a tune he first recorded back in 1989, but this time with a lush orchestral backing created by Kuno Schmid. "He is a phenomenal arranger and he created a different feeling for this song, which put us is a new direction. And Duduka is playing very, very differently on the drums than on the original recording." Of course, Roditi is referring to Duduka Da Fonseca, his fellow Brazilian and drummer of choice for more than two decades.
Brazilian pianist Helio Alves, another frequent Roditi colleague who has appeared on a number of the trumpeter's previous recordings, notably Brazilliance X 4, demonstrates once again that he is equally at home with both Brazilian and straight-ahead jazz genres. John Lee is another longtime collaborator and the reason Roditi has used the electric bass on so many of his projects, including Simpatico. "It's not about the electric bass," he explains. "It's about John Lee. It so happens that he plays electric bass. We've been associated since our days with Dizzy Gillespie's United Nation Orchestra and I like the way he plays the music, period. So the fact that he chooses to play electric bass is, to me, irrelevant."
On three tracks, Roditi is joined by the brilliant, up-and-coming trombonist Michael Dease. "This is the first time that he has recorded with me. Mike plays beautifully on all three songs, but his solo on 'Blues for Ronni' is especially great. He's a very talented musician" The other quintet tunes feature guitarist Romero Lubambo, who, along with Duduka Da Fonseca, is one third of the superb Brazilian combo, Trio Da Paz, "It's the first time that I've used Romero on an album. He's one of the masters of the acoustic guitar. Romero also plays one tune on the electric guitar, 'A Dream for Kristen,' but he gets a completely different sound. It's so warm that it sounds almost like an acoustic guitar."
Claudio Roditi was born on May 28, 1946, in Rio de Janeiro and began his musical studies at the age of five. As a teenager he discovered the music of trumpet giants like Louis Armstrong, Harry James, Dizzy Gillespie, and Miles Davis, thanks to an American uncle's record collection. At twenty he was a finalist in the International Jazz Competition in Vienna, then in 1970 moved to Boston to study at the Berklee School of Music. By 1976 Roditi had arrived on the New York jazz scene, and over the years worked alongside such jazz luminaries as Mario Bauzá, Paquito D'Rivera, Joe Henderson, Herbie Mann, Tito Puente, Charlie Rouse and McCoy Tyner.
In 1989 Roditi became a member of Dizzy Gillespie's United Nation Orchestra, and since then he has toured and recorded with The JazzMasters and The Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Star Big Band, Gillespie tribute groups led by musical director Slide Hampton and bassist John Lee. Additionally, Roditi is also a member of the Jimmy Heath Big Band, which recently appeared at the Blue Note-New York.
A gifted musical storyteller with a vast improviser's imagination, Roditi's playing is characterized by its essential lyricism and warmth. "Claudio doesn't even try to be original and he is," Paquito D'Rivera has observed, expressing a widely held opinion within the jazz community "He is such a sincere player. He doesn't play to try to impress anybody, he plays just music. ... I learn a lot from his way of approaching music, the honest way to play the music. The way he plays is so noble."
"I'm grateful to George Klabin and Resonance Records for giving me the opportunity to do a project like this, that I have been 'rehearsing' to do for years, trying to accept my own compositions," Roditi concludes. "I've finally, after so many years, started to realize that I have some good ones and so, for me this is a milestone."
CLAUDIO RODITI - SIMPATICO
Resonance Records HCD-2008 / February 9, 2010
a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation