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Multi-instrumentalist Julius Rodriguez blends jazz, gospel, R&B and hip-hop

A young man plays keyboard while holding a guitar.
Jenny Hwang, 212 Music LLC
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Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0
Julius Rodriguez.

At 23, multi-instrumentalist Julius Rodriguez brings experimentation, a blend of genres and technical wizardry to his debut album "Let Sound Tell All."

Released on June 10, Rodriguez's album celebrates music without borders or categories. For the record, Rodriguez plays keyboards and drums. Other musicians featured include trumpeter Giveton Gelin, bassist Ben Wolfe, saxophonist Morgan Guerin and volcalists Mariah Cameron and Nick Hakim.

Growing up in White Plains, New York, Rodriguez developed an early interest in the jazz and soul music his parents listened to, as well as the music he heard at his place of worship.

“My interest in music was sparked by watching musicians play in church," Rodriguez said in press release. His parents signed him up for classical piano lessons and he studied music theory. At church, he learned to play by ear.

"All these things made me very adaptable to all of the different kinds of music I was interested in,” he said.

Julius Rodriguez - Two Way Street At Home (Live)

At 11 years old, Rodriguez displayed his piano chops at New York City's famous Smalls Jazz Club, wowing audiences with his rendition of his favorite Duke Ellington tune “Take the A Train.”

Feeling that music would be a big part of his life, Rodriguez attended both the Manhattan School of Music and The Juilliard School. He started playing professionally at age 14.

In 2018, Rodriguez dropped out of Juilliard to tour with rapper A$AP Rocky.

Rodriguez's current career as a multi-instrumentalist and composer is dedicated to a mix of styles, genres and influences that he refers to simply as "the music."

Listen for Julius Rodriguez's composition "Where Grace Abounds" on KNKX's Midday and Evening Jazz programs.

In his own words: "It's a song I wrote at a time where I felt like I wasn't being the best version of myself yet, and still a lot of great things were happening to me. So it’s me being grateful for being in the situation I'm in, even though I felt like I didn’t deserve it.”

Julius Rodriguez - Where Grace Abounds

Originally from Detroit, Robin Lloyd has been presenting jazz, blues and Latin jazz on public radio for nearly 40 years. She's a member of the Jazz Education Network and the Jazz Journalists Association.
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