Reviewed by Jay Trachtenberg, Fri., Sept. 2, 2005
Corridor (CreOp Muse)
A gifted pianist now based in NYC, this former Austinite is perhaps best known for his supporting status with capital city vocalist Tina Marsh and her Creative Opportunity Orchestra. Now with Corridor, which appears on Marsh's CreOp Muse imprint, Rodriguez is out front leading a seasoned trio that includes veterans Mike Richmond on bass and drummer Eliot Zigmund. "Out front" may be a bit too strong a description for a set whose overall ambience and demeanor is decidedly subdued and reflective. Rodriguez may be the primary voice here, but the success of the music depends in no small part on the subtle and intricate interplay of the trio. At no time is there a sense of Rodriguez overpowering his colleagues. It's a sound somewhat reminiscent of the impressionistic tone of Bill Evans' trios, Rodriguez balancing Corridor nicely with four originals, standards by Ellington, Coltrane, and Rodgers & Hart, and one classical tune. His take on Trane's "Naima" stands out for its exploration of the now familiar melody using a slightly faster tempo and a flowing yet understated exuberance. Of his originals, "Within the Line" actually steps over the line to provide a refreshing if mild jolt from the well-tempered manners that characterize this in-the-pocket session.