Rico

Togetherness

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Trombonist Rico Rodriguez has played something of a midwife's role in the history of reggae music, having been there with his horn when Count Ossie was putting together the building blocks of the nyahbinghi sound, playing in the studio when Theophilus Beckford recorded "Easy Snapping" (which is generally considered the first ska recording), having served time in the legendary Skatalites, and then having continued to be on the scene, contributing both soulful trombone parts and original compositions to the music's development ever since. His career has now spanned more than 50 years, and his playing is as solid and assured as ever. Togetherness is a live set that finds him in Argentina, leading a local band that plays behind him in a respectful but not retiring manner, pushing him to push himself and keeping the grooves strong and the tonal mix rich. Highlights of the program include a cheerful and sweetly propulsive take on the midtempo "Dr. Kildare," a fine rendition of the late Don Drummond's ska standard "Eastern Standard Time," and a muscular version of Rodriguez's rocksteady classic "Try to Reach the Top." That last track is marred only by poorly miked and rather lackadaisical vocals, but otherwise the sound quality is exceptionally good for a live recording, and the album overall makes a fine tribute to one of reggae's elder statesmen. Recommended.

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