After 15 years of earning accolades as a “great Brazilian jazzman,” trumpeter Claudio Roditi has finally shed the geographic modifier in that phrase. These days the jazz world readily recognizes him among the trumpet elite, as much for his impeccable mainstream improvising as for his mastery of sprightly sambas. The last two years have brought us four of Roditi’s own albums, and perhaps a dozen others that benefit from his appearance as a sideman–most recently, the new CD by Horace Silver, which includes Roditi as part of its all-star lineup. Roditi brings a rare combination of brain and instrumental brawn to the trumpet, all of it bound up in a tone inspired by Dizzy Gillespie–another of his former employers–and buoyed by the sunny flavor of the music Roditi heard while growing up in Rio de Janeiro. The brawn finds voice in his dead-on intonation and his admirable technique on the rarely heard rotary-valve trumpet, in which the note-making machinery resembles the plumbing of a French horn rather than a traditional piston-valve trumpet, creating a rounder, warmer sound. Meanwhile, the compositional aspect of his improvising leads to solos that seem so well constructed you can barely imagine what other route they might have taken. More than once, I have heard Roditi improvise something so close to perfect that I wondered why the other musicians onstage would bother to solo at all. Roditi appears with frequent partner Greg Abate, a fluent, highly capable saxophonist, and with a Chicago rhythm section guaranteed to push the music toward bebop (in keeping with the venue’s monthlong celebration of Charlie Parker): veterans Stu Katz on piano and Wilbur Campbell on drums, and all-everything bassist Larry Gray. Friday and Saturday, 9 and 11 PM, and Sunday, 4 and 8 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 670-2473.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/David Gahr.