That Man Is Forward

It's great to think that at 71, Rico Rodriguez is still playing and that my 13 year old son is inspired by the great man to struggle into school with the big, black trombone case once a week.

Picture this conversation,

School music teacher: (To class) Who would like to learn a musical instrument?

Alex: Me please Sir.

Teacher: What instrument would you like to learn?

Alex: The trombone.

Teacher: Errr... right...

Now, skip forward two weeks. Alex arrives home with a big, black case.

Malarkey: What for the love of Little Mary Woodcutter is THAT? A ventriloquist's dummy? A machine gun?

Alex: My trombone.

Malarkey: (Silence, Alex opens said case)

Malarkey: Errr... right...

Listening to Rico

While we're on the subject of trombones, I thought it might be interesting to write about my favourite trombone player (actually I only know of one trombone player (except Alex)), the one and inimitable Rico Rodriguez. Now trombone isn't normally the first instrument which springs to mind when calling up mental images of my music collection. But interestingly, Rico's trombone playing has connections with a lot of the music I listen to on a regular basis.

RicoIn the late 1950's when Jamaican music first became widely popular, Rico was a sought-after backing musician and recorded with many Jamaican musicians of the time and for producers including the highly influential Prince Buster. When he moved to London in 1961 he continued to play a supporting role to visiting Jamaican musicians throughout the 1960's and 70's. In 1975 he signed to Island Records and supported Bob Marley on his European tour in 1978.

2 Tone

SpecialsIt was in 1979 that I first became aware of Rico through his massive contributions to the 2 Tone ska revival. Three of my favourite albums all feature Rico's exquisite playing, Specials, More Specials and Selecter's Too Much Pressure, all classics of modern ska and rarely off my (digital) turntable. If you haven't played them for a while (if ever), sit back and enjoy,

Rico: Trombone ManAfter parting company with the Specials, Rico went on to record two solo albums for 2 Tone including my personal favourites Easter Island and That Man Is Forward. I last saw Rico live playing as part of Jools Holland's Rhythm & Blues Orchestra in 1998 and his playing was as fresh, but timeless as ever.

Reasons to be cheerful, there's three

Three more Rico related facts

It's great to think that at 71, Rico is still playing and that my 13 year old son is inspired by the great man to struggle into school with the big, black trombone case once a week.


  1. #1 On June 30, 2005 09:21 AM Andy Mac said:

    Rica is a great & gifted musician and a worthy roll model for anyone taking up such a wonderful instrument.

    Another player that I'd point your son towards is Dennis Rollins. Though he's predominantly a jazz player which may or may not be your/his cup of tea, he's well worth listening to.

    Not forgetting the God-father of funk trombone, Fred Wesley. That man is an absolute legend!

  2. #2 On June 30, 2005 09:46 AM Matt Wilcox said:

    Nice one Alex. I used to play the Trumpet and the Tenor Horn. Trobones kick ass!

  3. #3 On June 30, 2005 11:20 AM Chris said:

    Excellent, a new recruit :0) I've played trombone for many years (actually I did a degree in jazz studies with it) and while it may not be the most popular of instruments, it is one of the most interesting. How many other instruments can you name that can nearly double in length whilst being blown?

    On second thoughts maybe it would be better not to answer that!

  4. #4 On June 30, 2005 02:20 PM trovster said:

    Trombone or Trumpet would be my choice of instrument to learn, unfortunately I'm not musical in any way, shape or form! I'd love to play one of these in a ska band, dancing around stage! Getting into more swing too. Brass is the best.

  5. #5 On July 1, 2005 01:30 PM Nic Rodgers said:

    Dennis Rollins was involved with Cheltenham Arts Festival last year to promote the trombone amongst 11 - 14 year olds. A whole bunch of kids got together, rehearsed regularly - became great - then the band played live with Dennis Rollins at the Cheltenham Arts Festival last month...

    Pretty cool stuff.

    On The Slide (what a name!)

  6. #6 On July 2, 2005 10:54 PM Kevin said:

    If great trombone playing is what you're after you can also check out some younger folks such as Vinnie Nobile of the Pilfers, Bim Skala Bim, and the Les Miserables Brass Band. Where other bands use a whole horn section Vinnie can blow you away on his own, and he's a swell guy to boot.

    Steve Kachnowski of the Skolars / Telegraph is also a personal favorite of mine. He and John Reynolds are absolutely incredible on the 10 Songs and More album.

    Those guys all inspired me when I was younger.