JAY RODRIGUEZ (Booklyn, NYC)
Prolific. Prodigal. Profound. That is Jay Rodriguez. Sometimes the sound is explosive, wild and full of fury, other times his music aches with a passion that’s painful and bare. Always modest and reverent, Rodriguez harnesses the unbridled audacity of youth and melds it with the uncanny discipline of a
hardened New York jazz veteran. Married to the song while sleeping with the groove, his sound sings of commitment to an ideal—it is spontaneity, culturally untethered and unpretentious, the excitement of far flung love at all costs. It is perfectionism kissed by chaos. — Michael Gelfand
Jay Rodriguez began his musical studies at the age of seven on clarinet and was playing lead alto with the late great Tito Puente by the age of fifteen. He graduated with the highest honors from New York City’s renowned High School for the Performing Arts (as featured in the film Fame). He went on to continue his studies at the Manhattan School of Music and the New School, but more importantly he studied life through music and music through life.
When asked about his childhood, he recollects how, “My saxophone guru, Mark Friedman tried to teach me how important it was to be a kid. Of course, I didn’t listen, so I was playing gigs constantly. I’d be coming home at 6 o’clock in the morning, then going to school. That was my childhood and I don’t regret it.”
It is with this focus and determination coupled with his natural prodigal abilities that Jay has been nominated twice for a Grammy under the best jazz solo category. He has performed or recorded with a diverse list of talent, all of whom represent the best in their respective genres. Improvising with Miles, rocking with Widespread Panic, grooving with Prince or jamming with his local NYC downtown peers Medeski, Martin and Wood, Jay is on the scene performing over 200 gigs a year.
Jay is also the musical director/founding member of New York City's phenomenon Groove Collective. In recent years, the band has opened for and jammed with James Brown, backed Tupac Shakur (voted #2 all time live Hip Hop performance on MTV), and shared the stage with Isaac Hayes, Erykah Badu, The Roots and BB King among others. Groove Collective just returned from a 2002 tour of Europe featuring JB trombonist Fred Wesley, and a trip to Moscow with guest artist P-Funk Co-founder Bernie Worrell.
He is also on the board of advisors for Road Recovery, a not for profit that helps professional artists overcome drug and alcohol addiction. For the past two years, Jay has also been dedicating his time to mentor foster children and teach them music through Road Recovery as well.
• High School for performing Arts, NYC, music major
• Manhattan School of Music, NYC, composition major
• New School for Social Research, NYC, Department of Jazz and Contemporary Music composition and saxophone major
Also studied privately with:
• George Coleman • Paquito D’Rivera • Jimmy Heath • Phil Woods • Joe Lovano – saxophone
• Joe Allard – saxophone and flute • Julius Baker – flute technique focusing on Baroque Style
• Kenny Werner – piano, composition • Gil Goldstein – orchestration • Hal Galper – composition
Jay Rodriguez (Hernan Ramiro Rodriguez Sierra), tenor, alto, bari saxes, flute, bass clarinet, composer/arranger;
born Barranquilla, Colombia, 9/17/67. Family moved to NYC 1971. At age 8 studied clarinet in grade school. From ages 10-15 studied in NJ with Tito D'Rivera, Paquito's father; also with Mark Friedman. Studied harmony, theory at High School of Performing Arts. Schoolmates were Bill Charlap; Justin Robinson; Stephen Scott. Then further reed study '82-4 with Phil Woods; summer classes with Joe Allard at Manhattan School of Music '84. Studied piano with Michael Wolff; flute with Julius Baker '84. Semester at Manhattan School '85. Attended New School's Jazz Program '86-9, included lessons from Jimmy Heath; George Coleman; Joe Lovano. First job was a rumba in Weehawken, NJ with vocalist Narcisso Valdes '81. Worked with Vincente Pacheco, Tito Puente '81; Butch Johnson, Marco Rizo '82. Jammed in Harlem with Victor Venegas, Bross Townsend, Herman Foster '83. From '86 played with funk ensemble, did studio work on jingles. Played with Charlie Sepulveda; Eddie Palmieri; in LV with Natalie Cole '86. Worked with Bill Ware '88, Bobby Sanabria '90; Dizzy Gillespie's United Nation Orchestra '91; Rashied Ali from '91; Ray Barretto '91-2; Gil Evans Orchestra '92-4; Groove Collective from '93; Medeski, Martin & Wood from '94; subbing in Mingus big band from '94. Played with Roy Hargrove big band, Chucho Valdez '98. Early influences include Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Stanley Turerentine, Michael Brecker, P. D'Rivera, Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Favorites: Joe Henderson, Illinois Jacquet, Lester Young. Festivals: Montreux with Barretto '91, Groove Collective '94; Madarao with Groove Collective, CHBB '94; Montreal with Steps Ahead'95; Nice with Barretto, Groove Collective, own trio '97; Umbria, Baranquilla, Havana '98. —From Leonard Feather/Ira Gitler's Encyclopedia of Jazz
More on Jay Rodriguez http://jayrodriguez.com/
Cuban born George Mena can best be described as the quintessential magicians musician. Yes, magician is the best way to describe this melodic genius whose gifted ability infuses moveable life into every song he writes, produces or arranges. He is a multi-faceted musician, playing piano, bass and percussion. George is also a sound engineer who creates full-on productions at Love House Music, Inc., his Pro Tools HD 4 Excel studio located in Union City, New Jersey. George Mena has taken his musical background and superb engineering skills to a level of artistry that distinguishes him as an A-list producer among the host of others in the industry. Mena makes it a point to get involved in every aspect of creation at his Love House studio. Whether he is interpreting a piano arrangement, performing live or producing, arranging and engineering all of the instrumentation on a track, Mena gives 110% of himself to every client equally. It is simply the way he is -- everyone gets treated with the utmost respect and his clients are loyal to him for it!
George has frequently been called upon by the heavy-hitters in the industry for his Dance, Latin, Hip-Hop and Pop musical productions. Mena has done club re-mixes of top-ten hits for an amazing array of performers including Beyonce and Jay-Z (Deja vu), Beyonce and Shakira (Beautiful Liar), Barbara Tucker (Love Vibration), Jennifer Hudson (Dream Girls), John Legend (Save Room), Destinys Child (Cater 2 U), Omarion (Dont Wanna), Wyclef Jean (Sweetest Girl) and many others.
2006 saw the launch of his label, Fuzion Records, along with his creative partner Franke Estevez. Together they have produced a host of successful singles, one of which is Love Vibration featuring Barbara Tucker which reached number one on the Billboard Dance Music Chart.George Mena attended private classes and seminars studying under the tutelage of star producer Barry Eastman, well known for making superstars of Aretha Franklin, James Ingram and Stephanie Mills. In the 1980s, Mena attended Jersey City State College taking advanced music theory courses for about a year and a half before deciding to pursue his musical career. He performed as bassist and keyboardist traveling with superstar headliners of the day such as Musique, Billy Paul, Grace Jones, The Tramps and Donna Summer. Working with these artists has been a learning experience and helped prepare me for where I am today I thank God for being given that opportunity
More on Mena Keyz http://menakeysrecords.com/