Alfredo Rodriguez dared to dream, no matter the cost

The Artistry of… Alfredo Rodriguez

Aiming for your dream at all costs: That is some kind of massive, courageous conviction. Ask yourself what you would do to follow and live your dream. Consider this pursuit, all resplendent with starry-eyed bravado and charmed with luck.

In 2009, the Cuban piano player Alfredo Rodriguez arrived in Laredo, Texas. As the story goes, he carried only a suitcase and sheet music. The audacious dream was to collaborate with Quincy Jones. The fantastic journey was not without its challenge and adversity. He was a Cuban national seeking amnesty in America. Adversity one: He ended up arrested by Mexican border officers. Adversity two: He was held for hours, questioned and even asked for money.

The paper Rodriguez had was sheet music, a beautiful artistic currency that would be a part of what would, in its way, pave the way to realizing his dream. With some added moxie and luck, the next moments were bathed in the pleasure of the luck of the draw, or luck of the moment, or maybe the “only on that day.” Hours of speaking with the border officials eventually turned them, and he was allowed through.

The dream to meet Jones was not a fleeting one. They had met before when Rodriguez was one of 12 jazz piano players chosen to play at the 2006 Montreux Jazz Festival. Jones heard Rodriguez play and was so taken that he wanted to hear more. That want — the prospect of collaboration — became the exciting ignition to a dream that came true with that beautiful collaboration realized. Music: the currency of a dream.


The Artistry of… is a weekly series that reflects on the passion and essence of an artist. It airs Wednesday evenings on Dinner Jazz with John Devenish.


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