While trombonist Rico Rodriguez left Jamaica for England just as ska was taking off, he’s always been seen as part of the musical foundation of the Caribbean’s second-most influential island. (All respect to Cuba.)
Togetherness is a good-sounding live recording made in 2000 and 2001 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Jamaican music is huge in many Spanish-speaking countries, and the Roots to the Bone Band (featuring members of four Argentinean ska and reggae bands) lays down deep and authentic grooves for Rodriguez to solo over. Most of the CD consists of Rodriguez originals like the slow-moving “This Day,” the peppier “Some Day” and the bluesy “Jam Rock,” but the man from Wareika also covers “Eastern Standard Time” by his fellow Jamaican trombone legend Don Drummond. Also not from Rodriguez’s pen: The dancing ska of “Eastern Island” is credited to “Sado Wattanobe,” who may or may not be the Japanese saxophonist Sadao Watanabe (though I couldn’t find a tune called “Eastern Island” is his catalog). And the old television theme for Dr. Kildare gets updated to a jumping ska number.
While Togetherness is a decent intro to Rodriguez’s music, it’s geared more toward connoisseurs of ska and reggae who just can’t get enough. Trombone Man: Anthology 1961–1971 (Trojan) is a 52-track collection featuring some of Rodriguez’s greatest recordings. Once you’ve digested that, latch onto Togetherness.