Reviews

CD AUTUMN
Rodrigo Sáenz

reviewed by
Batt Johnson

This does not happen very often, but when it does I say to myself, “now, here is a person who gets it.” I was instantly taken away with the first few piano notes of “If I Had You” on the new CD by Rodrigo Sáenz, called “Autumn.” I was transported to a small, intimate downtown, downstairs, down-tempo den of a jazz club in a black & white scene in the movie of late nightlife playing in my head. I saw a low ceiling, one small red spotlight on the musicians, and smoke in the room as thick as if the space shuttle had just taken off. And I saw all of that in the first few moments…and that’s just the first track on the CD.

Rodrigo gets a sound out of his trumpet that precisely befits the aforementioned scene. Why do some musicians play the trumpet so loud that it makes the hair on your arms stick straight up? When some musicians play with a mute, why does it have to be so muffled, imprecise, muddy and unclear that it becomes almost inaudible? Rodrigo Sáenz does not offer you either of the two.

“I Fall in Love Too Easily” maintains the texture and flavor of the previous track, only Mr. Sáenz adds his rich, warm vocals to his solid trumpet playing, immediately displaying his range, musicianship and diversity. The audio hills, valleys, slopes, and undulations on this CD are soft and gentle, but secure. There is a harmonious, intentional flow from one track to the next. The trumpet, bass and vocal sounds created on this recording are refreshing and relaxing.

This work offers clear, concise melodies that are so well executed that you can actually hear the lyrics in the instrumental tracks. You can hear the words in your head. A thousand notes do not have to be played at a lightning pace so they all blend together as one for music to be considered jazz. These musicians are not trying to show the world they went to music school. They are simply trying to help you feel through your ears. These songs are standards from the “Great American Songbook, chestnuts if you will, which make the entire CD sound like an old friend.

With Michael Favata on piano, Jerry Weldon on tenor sax, Ian Petillo and Wes Little on drums on various tracks and of course Rodrigo Sáenz on trumpet, acoustic bass and vocals, you can hear and feel the musical friendships, the relationships, the respect each musician has for the other.

Like the red, yellow and golden hued leaves softly floating to earth in Rodrigo’s favorite season of the year, his new CD will certainly entice.

Batt Johnson
Author of “What Is This Thing Called Jazz?”

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