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Roberto Juan Rodriquez

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Biography

Percussionist, composer, and arranger Roberto Juan Rodriguez, whose unique blending of Latin and Jewish music has essentially created a whole new hybrid, was born in Cuba, the son of veteran horn player Roberto Luis Rodriguez. The younger Rodriguez studied violin, piano, and trumpet in Havana, and learned to play drums there, as well. He left Cuba for Miami with his family when he was nine. While still in his teens, Rodriguez began playing drums with his father's various ensembles in the Miami area, and also began immersing himself in the culture of the area's large Jewish population, sensing historic similarities between Cuban expatriates and the Jewish diaspora. After majoring in jazz and music at the University of Miami, Rodriguez moved to New York City, quickly establishing himself as a drummer of note, working with the likes of T-Bone Burnett, Phoebe Snow, Rubén Blades, Paul Simon, Julio Iglesias, the Miami Sound Machine, Joe Jackson, and many other recording artists. He also became the drummer for Marc Ribot's acclaimed Los Cubanos Postizos band. When John Zorn approached him about the possibility of recording an album of Jewish music for Tzadik Records, Rodriguez jumped at the opportunity, throwing himself into composing for the first time. The result was the marvelous Judeo-Cuban El Danzon de Moises album, which was released by Tzadik to critical acclaim in 2002 (and featured plenty of musical input from Rodriguez's father, Roberto Luis). A further exploration of this new music, which might be termed Afro-Cuban klezmer, came with Rodriguez's second album, Baila! Gitano Baila!, released in 2004, again by Tzadik. A third Tzadik project, Oy Vey! Ole!, appeared in 2006, followed by The First Basket and Timba Talmud in 2009.

Genre
Years Active:

'00s, '10s

Contemporaries