“The most gifted trombonist working in early Jamaican music.”
It’s only fitting that “the most gifted trombonist” (allmusic) get a tribute from the band that pioneered the original ska sound. Last week, foundation ska band The Skatalites released a new single in honor of Rico Rodriguez entitled “Requiem for Rico.” Rodriguez passed away in September 2015 and was probably best known as the trombone player for The Specials though he was responsible for a remarkable amount of session work. Even if you don’t know his name, you’ve probably memorized his solo on their classic “A Message To You Rudy.”
This new Skatalites jam has just about everything you would expect from the band, save for maybe it’s length. Instead of opening with the standard full horn section hook, it opens with a perfect trombone melody doubled with the keyboard. The expert musicians then take their solos in traditional Skatalites form over traditional ska beat at just the right tempo. Everything about the song makes it a fitting homage to Rico.
Watch Rico play that unforgettable solo at the 1:35 mark.