By 1952 Louis Armstrong's international ubiquity was so established that even a six-year-old Rio de Janeiro boy taking trumpet lessons could develop an obsession with him. Claudio Roditi would, a few years later, expand his jazz fantasies to include Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis.
In 1970 he began studying the instrument at Boston's Berklee School of Music, where he gave himself extra homework, often consisting of intense renditions of Lee Morgan records. Since childhood, Roditi has possessed an ear for the great, one of his many strengths.
Arrangements are also a forte. Like tenor saxophonist David Sanchez, Roditi plays modern post-bop while remembering the great, first-take spontaneity of the classic Blue Note era. Some of his music contains passages of bona fide Latin jazz, but his instrumentation of piano, bass, drums, and any combination of saxes and brass keeps his approach solidly on the bop side.
Roditi's latest album of new material, Smile (2005), continues his global journey, seeming in no hurry to do the obvious. It's a recording replete with agogo bells, cuicas, and other Carnaval percussion staples. The session also pairs the trumpeter with German pianist Klaus Ignatzek, and sweetens it all up with the Bremen Philharmonic string section.
For this weekend's engagement, it's back to basics with the small combo. But if there's one thing Roditi has proven over his 45-year career, it's that he can cook equally well with 30 ingredients or three.
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