Monday, August 22, 2011


The other day, after running into a video of Jerry Dammer's Spatial AKA Orchestra that I hadn't seen, I had cause to stop and change directions, because there was a familiar face in the band, trombonist Rico Rodriguez. To be honest, I was flabbergasted that he was still playing because he's no spring chicken. He's 76 years old, and you know what? That unassuming man in the photo above could very well be cooler than you will ever hope to be. He's the real thing, an original ska horn, taught the instrument by the legendary Don Drummond, while both were students at the Alpha Boys School. (The alumni of the Alpha Boys School includes some of the most familiar names in ska and early reggae.)

Jerry Dammers' Spatial AKA Orchestra - Ghost Planet (Rico Rodriguez solo at 2:14.)

After seeing the above video, I had to stop and think why I dig Rico Rodriguez so much. After becoming familiar with him through his work with the Specials back in the eighties, I had done some backtracking. So I knew that a lot of early ska and reggae was peppered with his work (discography linked below). And I had a couple of his albums, one of which is two CD compilation of his early work (download link below). So I knew all that, but couldn't figure out why the above video struck such a chord, after all he is shaking a little while soloing, and the solo itself is not entirely breathtaking. Then it hit me today, after seeing, of all things, an older apartment building in the midst of having it's wood framed windows replaced by vinyl windows (which I detest). Sure, the wood windows may have been worn, and probably didn't work as well as they should, but old wood windows have infinitely more soul than that cheap new fangled shit. They have stories to tell, and while their usefulness diminishes with age, they have longevity, history and soul. Just like Rico. After fifty-plus years of music, he's still smack dab in cool.

Rico Rodriguez with the Specials (1979). He played on the 1967 original version by Dandy Livingstone too.

The Skatalites w/Rico Rodriguez - Yard Broom mp3 at Everybody Taste
Rico & the Rudies - Jumping the Gun mp3 at DJ No DJ
Toots & the Maytals w/Rico Rodriguez - Rastaman (1976) mp3 at Melting Pot
Rico Rodriguez - Africa mp3 at 4Shared Click on blue "download now" button.
Full LPs:
Rico Rodriguez - Man From Wareika at ReggaeActivo Chile (click on palm tree to download)
Rico Rodriguez - Full length fan mix at (-)
Rico Rodriguez - Trombone Man at Ska, Rocksteady & Reggae Beat 2 CD comp of work from '61 - '71
Rico Rodriguez - Warrika Dub at In Times Like Those
Rico Rodriguez w/Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra - The L-O-V-E EP at Musical Shark Attack (Rico sings!)
The Legacy: The Rico Rodriguez Story - Trailer of documentary at YouTube
Rico Rodriguez and Dancing Mood - Take Five at YouTube
Alpha Boys School - Trailer for documentary of reunion show at YouTube
Jama Rico - Extensive Wikia page with excellent bio, and an amazing discography
Jama Rico discography Wow.
Rico Rodriguez at 2-Tone collectors site

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