Monday, September 28, 2015

The Selecter on NPR; Herbie Miller of the Jamaica Music Museum Remembers Rico

Driving up to Boston Sunday morning for a wedding, I caught this pretty great interview on NPR with Pauline Black and Gaps Hendrickson of the latest iteration of The Selecter. You can listed to it in its entirety here. Their newest album, Subculture, is being released in the US later this week.

A good deal of the interview focused on the political messages in many of The Selecter's songs (both the original band's and the current one's)--particularly "Breakdown," a track protesting the police killings of unarmed black boys/men in the US and UK, which actually had been written before the events in Ferguson, MO:

On a lighter note, here's a funny passage from the interview from the NPR transcript:

(NPR Reporter) RACHEL MARTIN: How did you two meet? Do you remember when you first met?

BLACK: On a stage, really, didn't we?


BLACK: After an audition, I guess. May, 1979. So we've known each other a very, very long time. I mean, most people are divorced by now, aren't they?


BLACK: But our duo, I suppose - I mean, a male-female duo within ska music - certainly within two-tone - there isn't another one. And it has been absolutely excellent and has allowed us, I think, to broaden the kind of work that we can do and the kind of music that we can make.

MARTIN: Do you complement each other, and if so, in what ways?

BLACK: I admire Gaps for bringing what is badly needed, I feel, into, you know, my kind of British black perspective having been brought here, but he brings an absolute authenticity from, you know, the origins of the music that we make. And I think that you could say we were a little bit like the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (laughter) of ska. I mean, you know Fred gave kind of class to (laughter) Ginger and Ginger sort of, you know, made Fred look kind of, you know as though he got some life in him.


BLACK: It's not a direct analogy, but it's that kind of thing.


BLACK: We complement each other. That's what I'm trying to say.

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Herbie Miller, the director/curator of the Jamaica Music Museum at the Institute of Jamaica, wrote a lovely homage to Rico Rodriquez that was recently printed in The Gleaner (read it here).

Here's my favorite section from Miller's homage to Rico:

"A devotee of Rastafari from as far back as the 1950s, Rodriquez was recognised internationally as an exponent of ska and other forms of Jamaican and global popular music. He was the trombonist of choice among the pioneering exponents of Jamaican popular music, the main and most effective signifier of our culture. He was also one of the musicians whose style and personality conveyed an identity steeped in Afro New World aesthetics and a philosophical world view that centres Africa at its core. This perspective was noticed by eccentric and eclectic free jazz trumpeter Don Cherry who asked Rico, "How can you play like that"? And referring to his own experience, Cherry told him, "To play like you, I had to go to Africa to learn.""

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