Reviewed by Jay Trachtenberg, Fri., May 12, 2006
Pete Rodríguez doesn't waste any time exploding out of the blocks on his debut Mind Trip. From the opening notes, this imposing trumpeter with amazing technique is off and running with the speed, agility, and physicality not often seen in a local jazz musician. A New York transplant and son of salsa pioneer Pete "El Conde" Rodríguez, he comes with an impressive résumé that includes stints with heavyweights Eddie Palmieri, Celia Cruz, and Tito Puente. That said, this is not a Latin jazz LP, but rather a stylistic mixed bag of mostly original compositions. They alter between scorching, multihorn barn-burners more reminiscent of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers than Johnny Pacheco's trumpet and percussion dynamo, and well-tempered tunes that highlight Rodriguez's expressive, burnished flugelhorn playing. He's currently working on his doctorate in jazz performance at UT, and not surprisingly surrounds himself with faculty compadres: pianist Jeff Hellmer, bassist John Fremgen, drummer Jeremy Brown, and trombonist Ron Westray, also a member of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Add local saxmen Elias Haslanger, John Mills, and Paul White to the mix, and behold one of the best local jazz discs to come down the pike in quite some time.