Roberto Reimundo Rodríguez (Cienfuegos, January 23, 1936 – April 18, 1988), was a Cuban trumpeter and composer, who belonged to Ray Barreto’s orchestra, which he would later leave to belong to Fania All-Stars, as lead trumpet player.
Roberto is the author of Ray Barreto’s hit “Que viva la música”.
Roberto was born in 1938, in Cienfuegos (Cuba). He began his musical career at the age of 12, in his native province; cradle of the world famous Orquesta Aragón.
From an early age he participated in “Las Comparsas de Cuba” and with the orchestra “La Unión Fraternal de Cienfuegos”.
In 1955, he emigrated to the United States and in 1957 he married Nancy Zayas, with whom he had three sons: Roberto Jr., William and Richard.
While growing as an artist, Roberto co-founded the orchestra “Los Jóvenes Estrellas de Cuba” with his long-time friend Ernie Stairs. He later moved on to Wilfredo Figueroa’s orchestra and “Ritmo Swing”.
In 1965, Roberto was recommended to Ray Barreto by Eddie Martinez. Eddie was a pianist for both the TataVazquez and Ray Barretto orchestras.
After listening to Roberto, Ray Barretto recognized that he was in contract with Vivar, one of his former colleagues and musicians, and brought him on board. Roberto remained in Ray’s orchestra for 11 years.
His performance as first trumpet soloist was extraordinary. While in Ray’s orchestra, Roberto composed several famous songs such as: “Yo Soy La Candela”, “Fuego y Pa’Lante”, “Invitación al Son”, “Cienfuegos, Perla del Sur”, “Se Traba”, “El Tiempo lo Dirá”, “O’Elefante”, and the worldwide hit: “Que Viva la Música”.
In 1972, Roberto became a member of the Fania All-Stars as first trumpet and soloist. The documentary “Our Latin Thing” launched Roberto along with the other members of the All-Stars to international fame.
Our Latin Thing
On August 26, 1971 New York City gave birth to a sound that would change Latin music forever. That night at the renowned Cheetah nightclub, the Fania All Stars took the stage with their unique sound that echoed across all borders and reached every country. Fania Records re-releases “Our Latin Thing” on DVD, the film that sparked the salsa movement of the seventies.
From the concert came a double LP entitled “Live At The Cheetah” and the historic film “Our Latin Thing”. Its director, Leon Gast, documented the events at the Cheetah with the addition of footage of the musicians in the recording studio and scenes of New York’s Spanish Harlem.
The 40th anniversary edition of “Our Latin Thing” includes a DVD with the remastered film, and two CDs with the music from the film and some additional tracks, which can be purchased on the label’s official website.
In 1975, Ray decided to take a turn towards a new musical facet and Roberto became part of the group “Los Kimbos”.
Two years later, in 1977, Roberto joined the charanga band “Orquesta Broadway”. In this group he not only excelled as a trumpet soloist but also as a vocalist. Here he composed new hits, including: “No Se Va a Poder” and “Como Nueva York no Hay”.
In 1982, Roberto decided to assist his sons in their desire to continue their musical journey and produced the album: “Roberto Rodríguez Presenta a Los Rodríguez”, under the “Combo Records” label.
In 1983, Roberto joined the “Los Rodriguez” Orchestra, to perform with his sons Roberto Jr (trumpet player) and Willie (bass player).
His health deteriorated in early 1988, and he finally passed away in April of that year, victim of skin cancer. His son Roberto Rodriguez Jr. followed in his footsteps and has excelled in salsa orchestras in New York.
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