Hello Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners:
Both Lily and I are deeply saddened by the news of the passing of legendary trombonist, Emmanuel “Rico” Rodriguez, who died on September 4th, 2015 at the age of 80. Many of you may know him from his work with The Specials or with Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, but long before his recordings and performances in England, Rico was performing on the tracks of early ska and Jamaican Rhythm and Blues, and these earliest recordings are the ones we want to highlight to pay our respects to the mighty Rico. For this tribute show, we decided to examine Rico’s work prior to his emigration to England in 1962 for the second hour of the program.
Born in Havana, Cuba to a Jamaican mother and Cuban father, Rico and his family moved to Kingston as a child and attended the Alpha Boys School in the company of many future Jamaican music all-stars. In fact, his time at the Alpha Boys School allowed him to cross paths with another trombone king in Jamaica, Don Drummond, who would introduce Rico to the instrument he came to master and taught and mentored as a young musician. While learning from Don, Rico joined the Jamaica Jazz Orchestra with Don, Rupert Anderson, and Carlos Malcom. There’s a bit of contention around which track is the first recorded track by Rico. In interviews, we’ve seen The Jiving Juniors, “Over the River” as the first and in others, we’ve seen Continental Shuffle as the other. Given the dating of the record pressings, we began this spotlight on Rico’s spectacular trombone playing with Bridgeview Shuffle by the Matador All Stars.
By the time Rico left for England in 1962, he was in high demand, and as thus, it is no surprise he recorded for multiple labels and played on many many sessions.. Beyond his records for Lloyd Daley, Dada Tuari, and Duke Reid, Rico, like many artists in Jamaica, also recorded for Coxone Dodd. We heard Rico backing up Lascelles Perkins on “Lonely Robin,” recorded for Worldisc in 1961. In the late 50s, Rico moved to Count Ossie’s community in Wareika Hills, which was introduced to him by Don Drummond, who would invite Rico up to the hills after school to practice and perform. During this time, he got to explore multiple forms of music and would perform with Ossie, consequently, allowing him to perform on Ossie’s records in the early 60s.
In 2007, Rico received the Member of the Order of the British Empire award for his contributions to music. And, in 2012, he received the Silver Musgrave Medal for his musical contributions to Jamaica. We thank him for his legacy, and we send much respect to his family and to all of the artist who had the opportunity to work with him.
Listen to the entire program from September 8th, 2015 with the one hour tribute to Rico Rodriguez on MIXCLOUD HERE.
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Generoso and Lily