Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"From Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, to Ingrid and Christine Jensen, the notion of first-rate siblings in jazz, while certainly not new, is always exciting. On Conversations, the Rodriguez brothers, pianist Robert and trumpeter Michael, deliver a heartfelt display of original modern jazz explorations with a vibrant Afro-Cuban backdrop.
The opening track, "Rowdy Rod, is a potent mix of edgy, progressive jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms. With seamless transitions from fiery rhumba clave to hard driving swing, the brothers don't waste any time letting you know exactly what this session is all about. Both Robert and Michael are quick to demonstrate their fearless approach to soloing that continues throughout the entire session.
Both brothers contribute compositions with a sophisticated intertwining of modern jazz harmony and in-depth understanding of traditional Cuban rhythms. The haunting modality of Robert's "Guayaquil provokes lyrical and introspective trumpet and piano soloing against the lively cumbia rhythm of the piece. The ostinato vamp towards the end gives drummer Antonio Sanchez plenty of room to stretch out. Robert's compositional skills are also highlighted on "Lerida," a buoyant waltz written for his wife and dominated by the warmth of Michael's flugelhorn. The fugal "Intro to Conversations is multi-tracked for flugelhorn and bass only and is a reflection of Robert's classical background. Michael's tunes, "Rude Awakening, the aforementioned "Rowdy Rod and the title track, are slightly more hard-edged and reminiscent in compositional style of the late trumpeter Woody Shaw.
Much like the Rodriguez brothers, who proudly acknowledge their Cuban heritage, saxophonist David Sanchez has always been an artist on the cutting edge of jazz who is able to maintain strong ties to his Puerto Rican roots. On two cuts, "Rude Awakening and "Midnight Excursion, the tenor titan adds a lively element of spontaneity and spirituality.
Conversations speaks to the unlimited possibilities of the fusion between jazz and Latin music. The Rodriguez brothers are daring risk takers who have the ability to push improvised music forward with vigorous optimism." -AllAboutJazz
Down Beat (p.74) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "A tangy mix of hard-bop and Afro-Cuban styles emerge as the band's modus operandi, demonstrated on the opener, 'Rowdy Rod'..."
JazzTimes (p.77) - "Robert's piano work shows plenty of classical training mixed with some montuno flavorings and links to jazz players such as Cedar Walton, Keith Jarrett and McCoy Tyner."
The Rodriguez Brothers: David Sanchez (tenor saxophone); Michael Rodriguez (flugelhorn); Robert Xavier Rodriguez (piano); Ricardo Rodriguez , Carlos Henríquez (bass instrument); Antonio Sanchez (drums).
The Rodriguez Brothers' debut recording as co-leaders blends elements of Latin jazz and
post-bop in fine fashion, with each of them contributing several infectious originals. The Latin flavor is a little more discrete in Michael Rodriguez's driving opener, "Rowdy Rod," showcasing his fiery trumpet and a fine solo by bassist Carlos Henríquez. Robert Xavier Rodriguez, an accomplished pianist, penned the lush ballad "Lerida" to honor his bride and also the elegant "Intro to Conversations" (utilizing an overdubbed brass choir and arco bass) to set up "Conversation," featuring Michael on flugelhorn in a stunning performance that is reminiscent of Tom Harrell (duly noted by liner note writer David French). The one widely known song performed is "El Manicero (The Peanut Vendor)," though this lively interpretation bears little resemblance to the popular recordings of this decades-old favorite, with Michael's dancing muted trumpet powered by the unusual rhythmic backing, a joint arrangement by the Rodriguez Brothers. Tenor saxophonist David Sanchez guests on two tracks as well. ~ Ken Dryden