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Meet up-and-coming Cuban jazz trumpeter Kalí Rodriguez-Peña

Kalí Rodriguez Peña
Miri Páez Bolet
courtesy of the artist
Cuban trumpeter Kalí Rodriguez-Peña.

Kalí Rodriguez-Peña, a talented young trumpeter from Cuba, aims to redefine Cuban music. Influenced by the likes of Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard, Rodriguez-Peña's music blends in elements of R&B and hip hop.

"I want to break with the concept of what 'Cuban music' is, or means," Rodriguez said in a press release.

"Cuban music is more than what people think. I know my roots and I love them, but I also live in the 21st Century and I believe that one can add new things to what has been done before. I want to modernize Cuban music and merge everything I know and I've learned so far. I think is possible, and I don't have to lose my roots to do this."

Born and raised in Havana, Rodriguez-Peña has been mentored since age 14 by multi-instrumentalist and world-acclaimed musician Bobby Carcasses. Growing up, he appeared at national jazz events and won top prizes in the "Best Improvisation" and "Best Small Combo" categories.

Kali Rodriguez Peña Mélange Full EPK

Rodriguez-Peña released his first album, “Gente de Colores” in 2011. A few years later, he moved to New York City to attend the Manhattan School of Music on a full scholarship. He studied under trumpeter Jon Faddis and vibraphonist Stefon Harris and began playing in venues and festivals around the USA and Canada.

Rodriguez-Peña's new album is titled "Mélange," referring to the blend of musical traditions and heritages people listen to on playlists.

“By doing this, one’s mind eventually blurs what we call 'genres,' and starts associating different styles of music as choices of how to combine notes and rhythms,” he said.

Rodriguez-Peña said his new album has a particular focus on rhythms and groove. It also honors the African and Afro-Caribbean roots of jazz.

Kalí Rodriguez-Peña appears at Seattle's Royal Room on Sunday, June 26. More information about his 5 p.m. trumpet masterclass for high school students is here. Details and tickets for his 7:30 p.m. concert are here.

Listen for Rodriguez-Peña's interpretation of Wayne Shorter's composition "Yes or No" from "Mélange" this Saturday on Jazz Caliente.

Jazz Caliente airs Saturdays at 5 p.m. The show is hosted by Robin Lloyd and produced by KNKX Public Radio.

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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.