Referring to trumpeter Claudio Roditi as a “Brazilian jazzman” runs the same risk as calling the Cubs “perpetual contenders”–while technically true, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Yes, Roditi hails from Brazil, and his expertise in native rhythms serves him well in the multi-culti 90s. But this shouldn’t detract from Roditi’s credentials as a master of purely American improvisation; indeed, when talking about Roditi, the term “jazzman” needs no qualifiers whatsoever, except those superlatives reserved for the music’s accepted giants. (Skeptics have but to hear his live quintet date of last year, Milestones on Candid–a take-charge mainstream session with nary a touch of Brazil to be heard.) Roditi brings a rare combination of brain and instrumental brawn to the trumpet. The latter is heard in his admirable technique, which combines a Gillespie-inspired sound, dead-on intonation, and a facility honed in the bebop conservatory; the former is responsible for improvised lines that often sound inexorable–lines so well constructed it’s hard to see what other direction they might have taken. More than once I have heard Roditi play with something so close to perfection that I wondered why the other musicians onstage might bother to solo at all. In Chicago the local rhythm section will seem like a homecoming rally, since it includes pianist Howard Levy, guitarist Fareed Haque, and drummer Mark Walker–all of whom Roditi has played with in bands led by the Cuban saxist Paquito D’Rivera. Friday through Sunday, Joe Segal’s Jazz Showcase, Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan; 427-4846.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/David Gahr.