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NPR Music

Julius Rodriguez, 'Gift of the Moon'

When a rising jazz phenom gets the go-ahead to make a first impression on a major label, pyrotechnics is the standard mode. But Julius Rodriguez — a hyperacute pianist, drummer and now guitarist known to many in alternative R&B and hip-hop circles as Orange Julius — opted for a warmer glow. "Gift of the Moon" is the first single from his debut Let Sound Tell All, which Verve will release on June 10.

Beginning with a woozy synth pattern and what sounds like the whir of field crickets, the song tumbles into gear about 20 seconds in, shifting from waltz time into a relaxed yet sharply syncopated groove. Tending that groove with bassist Daryl Johns and drummer Jongkuk Kim, Rodriguez sets a stage for some solo elaboration from trumpeter Giveton Gelin — in a wash of overdubs, as if to embody an improvising chorus. Some wordless vocals by Nick Hakim, Rodriguez's longtime associate in Onyx Collective, brings the tune to a close, if not a conclusion; this is music that prioritizes a vibe, rather than the mechanics of plot.

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