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Dr. Bobby Rodriguez bringing Latin jazz Christmas concert to Irvine Barclay Theatre

Dr. Bobby Rodriguez bringing Latin jazz Christmas concert to Irvine Barclay Theatre
Dr. Bobby Rodriguez will perform Latin jazz renditions of classic Christmas tunes on Dec. 2 at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. (Photo by Charles Calderon)

For Dr. Bobby Rodriguez, it was love at first sound when he first heard jazz music.

He was only 10 years old when he picked up the trumpet and hasn’t put it down since.

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“I was all in right away,” Rodriguez said.

The jazzman went on to play with Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock and Carlos Santana. Now he’s bringing his signature Latin jazz style to the Irvine Barclay Theatre on Dec. 2 for a Christmas concert.

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Rodriguez will lead about two dozen musicians as they play Latin jazz renditions of classic Christmas tunes like “Deck the Halls” and “Silent Night.”

The songs are from Rodriguez’s 1997 record, “A Latin Jazz Christmas,” which he said was the first Latin jazz Christmas record ever produced.

Jerry Mandel, president of Irvine Barclay Theatre, said he booked Rodriguez because he wanted a unique way to usher in the Christmas season.

“I thought this would be a great way to celebrate in a different kind of way,” Mandel said. “There is holiday music everywhere, but I wanted to do some Latin jazz. These are incredible arrangements.”

Rodriguez, 68, of Yucaipa has worked as a professional musician since he made $10 playing a show at age 13.

“That blew my mind,” Rodriguez said. “I thought, ‘I could play this thing that I love and make money. This is a great thing.’ ”

Rodriguez quickly climbed to the upper echelons of musicdom, co-conducting Quincy Jones’ band in his late 20s. Stints followed with other jazz legends, like Ray Charles.

“I loved Ray, but worked with him for a short period of time because it was not easy working with the Ray Charles organization,” Rodriguez said. “But, the time on stage was unbelievably wonderful.”

Along the way Rodriguez produced seven albums, with an eighth currently in the works.

He was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2000 for his album, “Latin Jazz Explosion.”

For the last several years Rodriguez has been focused on his legacy. In particular, he wants to do his part to ensure that young musicians have the tools they need to succeed to ensure a future for jazz music.

He worked as a music professor at UCLA for 18 years and currently is in his 16th year at UC Irvine.

“Music has been very good to me and I think it’s my turn to try and help it continue to change lives,” Rodriguez said.

Some of Rodriguez’s students at UC Irvine will be performing in the big band at the Christmas show.

“Big band is like a freight train to your face,” Rodriguez said. “It’s something very beautiful.”

If You Go

What: Dr. Bobby Rodriguez’s “Latin Jazz Christmas”

Where: Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine

When: 7 p.m. Dec. 2

Tickets: $35 to $100

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