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Roditi first encountered the spirit of jazz at age nine, when he began playing trumpet. On trips to the local record store, he'd invariably see the instrument on the covers of albums by Armstrong, Harry James, and Red Nichols, and convince his father to buy those recordings. At age thirteen he began improvising and tuned into more modern recordings, including Gillespie's 1954 pairing with Roy Eldridge and Miles's 1955 'Round About Midnight. A few years later, Roditi was hanging out with working musicians in the port city of Santos, south of Rio.
"The whole musical movement that was happening in Rio started to go down there," he recalls. "There was an alley where there were three nightclubs where bossa nova and samba jazz was being played. My first jam sessions were in one of those clubs. It was called Little Club. Deodato, Sergio Mendes, Elis Regina -- everybody was playing in these clubs. That area was very crucial in the development of the music in the early Sixties. By '65 the owners of these clubs decided they weren't making enough money and decided to change their whole [booking] philosophy."
More than 30 years after those formative jam sessions, Roditi has become a major force in Brazilian jazz, as attested to by his ability to gather players such as Alves, Da Fonseca, bassist Nilson Matta, and singer Maucha Adnet, a long-time Jobim associate, for Saturday night's show. He stays busy, touring and recording with Brazilian groups, bebop outfits and big bands such as Holland's Metropole Orchestra, and conducting workshops and seminars for college students. His long-overdue next CD will feature a quartet, with Roditi the lone horn fronting a rhythm section. "I expect to do maybe one composition of mine," he says. "The rest will be some jazz standards. This is gonna be a straight-ahead jazz album."
But Roditi remains frustrated with the popular perception of Brazilian jazz, particularly by those who write about the genre. "Because the rhythm is infectious and the melodies are pleasant, very often the public really likes it," he explains. "But the tendency of the critics is to not understand that this is also jazz. It's not ethnic music. What I do is a heavy combination of American jazz and Brazilian rhythms. What I'm playing on trumpet is nothing but jazz, but done in a Brazilian way."