Jay Rodriguez is a visionary artist. His voice on all his instruments is one that has led him to be in demand as a leader and sideman with wildly diverse musicians. Jay was introduced to the clarinet in grade school at age 7 . He expanded his reed studies on saxophone/flute with his best friend's brother Jesus Garcia, soon after he met Tito D’Rivera (father of Paquito) and Joe Allard.
During a road trip with then famed DR Singer Vicente Pacheco he met lead Alto Saxophonist Mark Friedman who then introduced him to Phil Woods .
At 15 he was out on the scene performing and playing around town.
He attended the renowned High School for the Performing Arts with Billy Charlap, Jon Gordon which then merged with Music and Art and is now known as La Guardia School for Music and Art and the Performing Arts where he graduated with honors.
During his last year there he met the great alto saxophonist Arnie Lawrence who recruited him as one of his new young jazz lions to bring to the New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music at it's inception.
There he studied with a who's who of jazz. Sir Roland Hanna , Walter Davis Jr, Joe Henderson, John Gilmore, Gil Goldstein, Clifford Jordan, Jimmy Heath, Joe Lovano to name few .
When asked about his childhood, Rodriguez recalls:
"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 .I don’t regret it. Well sometimes I do.." Life informs the music and not the other way around."
Jay's first latin cross over experiences into more mainstream jazz came with the great late bassist Victor Venegas ,Marco Rizo and Candido , not to mention Paquito that would take him to sit in at the famed Village gate on Monday Nights for the Salsa meets Jazz series.There he met Dizzy Gillespie, Stanley Turrentine ,Ray Barretto and would be featured as a soloist. He would never be the same again.
He is a founding member of the New York City music phenomenon Groove Collective. The have shared the stage and or toured with James Brown, Widespread Panic ,Dave Matthews Isaac Hayes, , among others.the rhythm section even backed up Tupac Shakur at the MTV Awards.
They were the featured rhythm section on Earl Sebastian's Music Iconic Documentary Red, Hot and Cool.
This focus and determination have propelled Rodriguez into a highly successful musical career. A three-time Grammy Nominee, he has performed or recorded with a diverse list of talent, including icons Joe Lovano, Elvis Costello, Gil Evans, David Murray,Roy Hargrove, The Mingus Big band, Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Willie Colon, Eddie Palmieri, Bobby Sanabria, Stevie Wonder, Joan Osborne, pianist Chucho Valdez, (Widespread Panic bassist) Dave Schools , Medeski , Martin and Wood, Fred Wesley, Roy Nathanson, Bernie Worrell, David Krakauer, the great Cuban all star ensemble Irakere, Paquito D’Rivera, Ray Barretto, Doc Cheatham , Slide Hampton, Teruo Nakamura , James Moody, Clark Terry, Cab Calloway, The New York Philharmonic, Hip Hop artist such Guru’s Jazzmatazz and the Wu-Tang recorded/toured with Prince, DJ Premiere, George Porter Jr. among others.
Jay is always on the cutting edge having worked with Dj/Producers Francois K , Nicodemus, Little Louie Vega, Dennis Ferrer, DJ Smash, as well as Writers/Essayist Karl Hancock Rux, Amiri Baraka and Carry Mae Weems, and many others.recorded/toured with Prince, , DJ Premiere, George Porter Jr. and more.
Currently as of 2019-2020 Jay has been touring and collaborating with the NYC iconic guitarist Marc Ribot as well as with Producer Jason Miles known for his work with Miles Davis,and Luther Vandross among others.
He is working closely with the legendary trombonist/composer Craig Harris
He recently collaborated with famed producer Andrew Wyatt for Miley Cyrus and other Pop artists.
He released his first solo record in many years "Your Sound "
"Live at Dizzy's JALC "featuring Billy Harper, Larry Willis, Billy Martin, Eric Wheeler and Jt Lewis .
Jay Rodriguez composes and performs incessantly .
Please look out for his performances around town or around the world.
His important musical contributions have been a part of the NYC sonic tapestry in many genres as a composer, arranger and soloist for the past 30 years.
Many of Jay’s achievements can be found in the
“Encyclopedia of Jazz” (authors: Leonard Feather and Ira Gitler).
"He could be breathy and insinuating on a ballad, brawny and extroverted in an uptempo…"
- Jon Pareles, THE NEW YORK TIMES