Tito Rodriguez, Jr.

Tito Rodriguez, Jr.

Tito Rodriguez, Jr. , Tito Rodriguez Jr. Orchestra

Some say the great age of the Palladium ballroom and Latin jazz bands is dead. The proof is in the demise of the dance halls, starting with the Palladium, formerly in midtown Manhattan at 53 Street and Broadway. However, the era is being kept alive in more than spirit by a handful of musicians. One of the most prominent is Tito Rodriguez, Jr., whose father led one of the most revered bands in the history of the "golden era".

Born in New York,  and tutored by his father, young Tito took up drums at age nine. For a nascent bandleader, timbales were a necessity and Tito Jr. learned the authentic techniques on rims and heads to the point where he was able to tour with the Tito Rodriguez Orchestra. This he did in the late sixties and seventies, during which he became familiar with the exciting arrangements and more showbiz requirements. In 1975, Tito Jr. enrolled in Berklee; he moved south and, a few years later, earned a BA in music theory from the University of Miami.

With help from Ruben Blades, Tito produced his first album, Curious, under the banner of the Tito Rodriguez Jr. Orchestra. By 1994, the ensemble had toured extensively and released a second album, Eclipse, scoring a hit dance single. Then the momentous meeting occurred: Tito Rodriguez Jr., Mario Grillo (son of Machito) and Tito Puente, Jr. The resulting Big 3 Orchestra has traveled the world supporting the album The Big 3: Live at The Blue Note.

Following his dad's footsteps, in 2006 Tito, Jr. laid the foundation for his own record company: TRJR. The label is Latin friendly and artist friendly and, if his father's private label success is anything to gauge by, TRJR will be a runaway favorite of Latin music fans and musicians.

Like his father, Tito Rodriguez, Jr. ably leads his orchestra from behind his pair of timbales. Even though It is difficult these days to keep a big band fed and working, simply due to economic exigencies, there are calls for a return of the great Latin jazz era. Tito has been successful-and credible-in responding due to his blood ties with the past. Expect more from the label TRJR, including more solo Rodriguez albums and new titles from "The Big 3".