From Chile to America: Building a Bridge of Blues

When Jimena Villaseca took the Self-Expression and Leadership Program, she was committed to building ties between Chile and the United States, and at the same time support Chilean blues artist Pedro Rodriguez build a following in the United States. Her project resulted in a unique concert being held on May 2 near New York City. All About Jazz recently wrote a feature about Rodriguez and the show.

Born with the Blues, Chasing a Dream: Pedro Rodriguez, Chilean Jazz Guitarist to Give Concert on May 2

 Pedro Rodriguez brings his unique brand of Latin Jazz and The Blues to a New York audience on Friday, May 2, culminating a journey of many years and many miles from his hometown of Santiago, Chile.

The son of a medical doctor who played the trumpet, Rodriguez grew up in Santiago, listening to Jazz, Tango and Beatles records. As a teenager, he found a guitar stashed in a closet and started to play. “I decided I wanted to be a jazz musician before I knew really what that meant”, Rodriguez said. “I just knew I was swept away by the beauty and magic of the sound, and the culture from which it springs”.

“It wasnt easy wanting to be a musician in Chile in those days, Rodriguez said, referring to life under the regime of General Augusto Pinochet. “Most people looked down on musicians -especially jazz musicians – because their music was deemed too foreign and illegitimate”. He sought out jazz music classes, even private instructors, only to discover that none such existed. “Music was my only escape, and I struggled a lot to find joy in my life”.

Rodriguez came once to the United States to study Jazz in the mid-1990s, only to be forced to return home by his fathers death. Upon his return to Santiago he recorded an album as a trio, call Dead Man Plays Dead Man, which he dedicates to his father.

In 2006, a decade after setting his sights on getting a degree in Jazz Performance, he resolved to return to finish what he started, and returned to William Paterson University. “My style is deeply rooted in the blues, but my love for jazz is open to many styles”, Rodriguez says. “My approach to music is that of melodic communication. The idea of song should never get lost”.

The May 2nd concert culminates four years of study and will be played with Gene Bertoncini and Paul Meyers, two master musicians who are highly regarded perfomers in New York’s Jazz club circuit.The concert is being held on Friday, May 2, at 6.45 pm at William Paterson University. on 300 Pompton Road in Wayne, New Jersey. The Program will feature arrangements of American standards, Brazilian standards, and original arrangements by Pedro Rodriguez.

To see the original story as it appeared, go to the All About Jazz website.

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Julia Taylor

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