Julius Rodriguez: 2nd Interview!
The Julius Rodriguez Quintet played at the club 02/01/19 and 02/02/19
An all-star quintet of young lions brings you the fresh sound of jazz’s up and coming talents. The leader and Westchester native, Julius Rodriguez, has already been making a name for himself in the New York City jazz scene. Read his previous interview here!
What are your thoughts on the future of Jazz?
Jazz is going to live on either way; we don’t have control of that. I feel like it’s my duty to do the best I can for music, whether it be Jazz or Gospel or R&B or Hip Hop or Rock; whatever it is I’m playing.
I think I have a duty to keep music alive and not get caught up in what is jazz and what isn’t, and getting tangled with different labels. As long as music is genuine, makes people feel good, then that’s important.
I’d love to hear about your experience at Roy Hargrove’s benefit at Jazz at Lincoln Center, playing his music.
When I first came to New York, and even before I moved to New York, I’d always go to his shows and try to catch him, literally, any chance I got. When I moved to New York, he kinda just saw my face a lot, and you know, I knew a lot of his music because I was such a big fan; he’s definitely one of the top guys to me on a trumpet. Even when I first started playing the trumpet, I liked Roy.
Over time, we developed a relationship that wasn’t just me as a fan. He heard me play for the first time and our relationship bloomed from there. I remember one occasion where he came down to the Bahamas to help me go to Juilliard. He helped me raise the funds to do so. That was one of the things for me — my hero — going to the place where I’m from. It showed what type of person he was.
He was a very loving person and cared for the younger generation. And as far as Jazz at Lincoln Center, Roy Hargrove’s manager called me to do it. I felt honored to do so; there was definitely a bond between us. I feel like that’s something he would have wanted.
It was a great experience to play with his band because I felt the energy like he was present. I loved Roy, and every time I saw him, he always showed love to me. It was a special moment, and I’m really honored and humbled to have had that opportunity.
So, tell me how you came to sing like that.
I grew up in a family of people who listened to jazz all the time, and my grandfather was a jazz drummer, so I guess I was inspired by his playing and his knowledge of music. I went to jazz music school when I was five and have been singing for 20 years now.
Who are your mentors?
I have many mentors, but my biggest, most important mentors are JD Walter, Kurt Elling, and Gregory Porter. These are the three people who really inspire me every day.