Julius Rodriguez – Let Sound Tell All (Deluxe) (2022)

Julius Rodriguez - Let Sound Tell All (Deluxe) (2022)
Artist: Julius Rodriguez
Album: Let Sound Tell All (Deluxe)
Label: Verve Records
Year Of Release: 2022
Format: FLAC (tracks)
Tracklist:
01. Dora’s Lullaby
02. Chemical X
03. Blues At The Barn
04. All I Do
05. Interlude
06. Gift Of The Moon
07. Two Way Street
08. Where Grace Abounds
09. Elegy (For Cam)
10. In Heaven
11. Philip’s Thump
12. Starmaker

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A true cross-genre phenomenon, pianist Julius Rodriguez is a gifted improviser and composer well-versed in the jazz tradition, but also at home in gospel, funk, and hip-hop settings. Rodriguez, who also goes by his nickname, “Orange Julius,” has backed jazz vocalist Carmen Lundy and, most notably, toured with rapper A$AP ROCKY in 2018. He brings this deep well of stylistic inspiration to his Verve debut, 2022’s dynamically realized Let Sound Tell All. There’s a post-modernism and sonic warmth to the album as Rodriguez blends organic live jazz and inventive studio production. It’s a combination perhaps best exemplified by the opener, “Blues at the Barn.” A hard-swinging blues in the McCoy Tyner tradition, it starts with Rodriguez and his trio with bassist Philip Norris and drummer Joe Saylor playing to an appreciative clapping crowd at what could be an outdoor festival before morphing EDM-style into what is clearly a vividly captured in-studio performance. Rodriguez plays with other mind-bending studio conceits throughout the album, finding ever more ear-popping ways to reframe his adventurous jazz. “Two Way Street” starts with a kinetic drum pattern against which tenor saxophonist Braxton Cook blows fiery lines with a guttural intensity that Rodriguez filters through a psychedelic soundboard, transforming the saxophonist’s every breath into a miasma of shrieks and spiraling laser tones. No less sonically adventurous is “Gift of the Moon,” a funky hip-hop-infused track in which Rodriguez lays down a dewy bed of synths and electric piano over which trumpeter Giveton Gelin plays a dreamlike web of trumpet melodies. More delicate moments pop up elsewhere, as on the languid “Elegy (For Cam).” Beginning with Rodriguez’s hypnotic piano and synth chords played over a woody, wave-like bass groove, the song culminates in a sparkling shimmer of gospel vocal harmonies from singer Hailey Knox. With Let Sound Tell All, Rodriguez has made an album that deftly bridges the gap between earthy live jazz and wizard-like studio craftsmanship.
Review by Matt Collar

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