Extraordinary composer in the traditional vein; extraordinary maestro of our national instrument
The following autobiography of Pepe Rodriguez arrived to us by the courtesy of his pupil,
"At the age of 14 I made my own Puerto Rican cuatro, and on it I learned my first musical notes. At about 15 years of age, I made a guitar and on it I learned several chords. Two years later I was accompanying my brother, Baltasar Rodríguez. He was a professional musician. While he practiced on his guitar I followed him on my cuatro.
"At the age of 18 años my brother and I joined and created a group with two cuatros playing as a duo. The name of the group with “Los Hermanos Rodríguez”. Later, at 25, I traveled to New York. Two months after I arrived I recorded eight pieces with the singers Pompo, Chago Alvarado, Claudio Ferrer and others. On that occasion, Claudio Ferrer heard me play and right away he said, "let's make a trío". The trío was called “Claudio Ferrer y su Trío”. Our debut took place in the Triboro theatre at 125th street in Manhattan, the Hispano theatre, and the Puerto Rico theatre at 138th street in the Bronx.
I accompanied and recorded with Ladislao Martinez, the great “Maestro Ladi.” I participated in a trío with Sarrail Archilla and Polo Ocasio. The name of the trío was “Los Auténticos.” I accompanied my friend Archilla a lot.
I recorded many records with the singers Carmen Delia Dippini, Tony Pizarro, Corozo, Vitin Pérez, Rafita Martínez and others. I also participated in many recordings with Ramito, who I backed many times in theatres. Then I went to play in American hotels with Pepito Arvelo's orchestra.
In 1958 I became a member of Xavier Cugat's orchestra as guitar player. In that role I appeared on television on the Ed Sullivan Show.
In 1968 I returned to Puerto Rico to become a member of the La Playa Sextet, directed by Paul Alicea. Later I entered the Jorge Valle orchestra.
I played with many American and Brazilian groups and composed my pieces for the cuatro.
I'm now retired in the city of Orlando, but I always dream of the strings because, music is life!"
Listen to several pieces composed by Pepe Rodriguez, performed by the composer in a private recording (transferred from audio tape)
Vals de la Novia
Pepe Rodriguez' compositions played by other noted musicians:
Cuatrista Sarrail Archilla and guitarist Polo Ocasio play Pepe Rodriguez' masurca Carmela
Now Sarriel and Polo play Pepe Rodriguez' joropo titled Marumba a Morovis. [Marumba for the town of Morovis]
Arturito Avilés plays cuatro, with his brother Manuel on guitar play Pepe Rodriguez' danza Fiesta Boricua
Special for the Cuatro Project:
An interpretation of the Pepe Rodriguez composition, Alegría, with Kacho on guitar and Ray Vázquez on cuatro
Kacho and Ray now perform the beautiful Pepe Rodriguez composition, Carmela
More Pepe Rodriguez recordings below!
Pepe Rodriguez on stage. Below, during the same performance: Left to right, Francisco López Cruz, guitar; Jaime Peña, guitar; Pepe Rodríguez, cuatro; Juan Peña, cuatro; Juan Santana, cuatro.