Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music


RODRIGUEZ, Bobby 'Compania'

(b Spanish Harlem, NYC) Salsa bandleader, saxophonist, flautist, clarinettist, pianist, vocalist, percussionist, arranger, composer, producer; not to be confused with the veteran bass player of the same name. He was music director, arranger, composer and tenor saxist with his brother Ray Rodríguez' orchestra late '60s/ early '70s; worked on Ray's LPs Introducing Ray Rodríguez And His Orchestra and Delusion c'68-9 on Alegre, Ray Rodríguez y su Orquesta c'70 on Cotique and Ray Rodríguez And Duro '74 on Mericana; the second including outstanding 'Olvidame' ('Forget Me') co-penned by Bobby and albino lead singer Nestor Sánchez 'El Albino Divino'. (Sánchez departed to work with Tony Pabón's La Protesta '69-75, then Conjunto Candela '76, Larry Harlow '77-82, Julio Castro '84, Grupo Fascinación mid-'90s, and solo.) Bobby played on Joe Bataan's smash hit LP Salsoul '73 on Mericana; organized his own brass- and flute-led band La Compañia (the Company) '74 blending típico Latin music with jazz, soul and funk influences, the songbook including English-lyric numbers; worked club circuit before making debut album on Vaya Lead Me To That Beautiful Band '75, including Rubén Blades's song 'Numero 6' about subway delays. Puerto Rican born Junior Cordova (from Nelson Feliciano and Rafael Cortijo's bands) and José Acosta provided Spanish vocals; trombonist Eddie Iglesias (aka Eddie Hernández, a second-generation New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent who started with Bataan's band) sang English vocals. Bobby's live follow-up Salsa At Woodstock '76 included another Blades hit 'What Happened'. Bobby, Acosta, Iglesias and La Compañia's timbalero Charlie Salinas performed on the Alegre All-Stars' 17th anniversary album Perdido (Vol. 5 Or 6?) '77 produced by Al Santiago. Bobby's hit single title track of Latin From Manhattan '78 was a salsa/ dixieland jazz make-over of Al Jolson's '30s hit; he produced, directed, arranged and played on Survival '79 on Tico by brother Ray's Orchestra Duro. Hay Que Cambiar La Rutina '80 and The Force Of The 80's '81 were his last albums on Vaya.

Iglesias departed '84 to co-lead/ co-produce (with percussionist José Pintor) the nine-piece Los Amigos and the Bad Street Boys (later shortened to the Bad Street Boys), taking Salinas and Acosta with him; also featuring a bilingual repertoire, they debuted with the popular Cheek To Cheek, followed by Taste Of The Neighborhood/Sabor del Barrio, Looking For Trouble (Buscando Problemas) and José Pintor Presents The Bad Street Boys on JAP mid-'80s to '88; best-of compiled on The Bad Street Boys '95 on JAP. Frankie Morales provided Spanish lead vocals on the Bad Street Boys' first three albums, sang briefly with the Lebrón Brothers and went solo. Bobby made a comeback with renamed band La Nueva Compañia (the New Company) on Mi Regreso '84 on Caimán, including a magnificent remake of 'Olvidame', with guest lead vocalist Orlando Castillo 'Watusi' (b 23 March, Marín, Yaracuy State, Venezuela; a member of Los Satélites, Porfi Jiménez y su Orquesta, Federico y su Combo Latino and other bands, went to NYC '79 to pursue a freelance/ solo career with albums Ustedes, Mi Rumba y Yo '81 on Vaya, EchaleWatusi! '87 on Tibiri, Siempre Pa'lante '92 on Cali [aka Como Nunca on TTH]; participated in all-star Salsa Ritmo Caliente '88 on Tibiri; made UK debut with Tito Puente '90). Iglesias, Cordova and Salinas reunited with La Nueva Compañia for Caimán follow-up Juntos Otra Vez '87 ('Back Together Again'). Bobby assisted and performed with the Partially New Alegre All-Stars at a free reunion concert in the Bronx '94.