The London-based JA-13 Cooperative is essentially Richard Drury and Keith Finch. Neither of these are blank pages: Richard Drury was considered one of the most promising songwriters in England in the 90s and the multi-instrumentalist Keith Finch already played in several (ska) bands. Together they now have "JA-13 Cooperative Presents Rico Rodriguez: Rico - Order Of Distinction“(Jamdown Records) produced. The studio sessions with the 80-year-old Rico began in 2014, but soon had to be canceled because Rico fell seriously ill and died as a result in September 2015 in a London hospital. Drury and Finch then left the recordings for almost 5 years until they finally had an approval with the fan and released Rico's very last recordings in spring 2019. The 9-track album bears the more than fitting title "Rico: Order of Distinction". In 2007 Rico received the British Order of “Member of the British Empire” (MBE) for his services to music and in October 2012 he was awarded the “Silver Musgrave Medal” for his outstanding service to Jamaica by the Institute of Jamaica.
The older work begins with a real ska scorcher "Gold Rush", which is immediately powerful in the legs. The rest of the tracks are more leisurely, depending on their age. With his soft, unmistakable trombone playing, Rico leads the listener through all fields of Jamaican music. From African influences, Burru drumming to jazz borrowings, the listener is offered everything. "Hold Him Joe" and "Ninety And Nine" are revisions of standards from Rico's very early days, when he was still taking trombone lessons at Alpha Boys School. Of course, the remaining instrumental pieces are also absolutely worth listening to. Emmanuel "Rico" Rodriguez demonstrates his masterful trombone playing to the fullest one last time, as if he had already suspected during the sessions that he didn't have much time left. The entertaining album ends with the “Mountain Mix”, a replay of the timeless instrumental from the 2006 album “Wareika Vibes” produced by Drury and Finch. How many overdubs were ultimately necessary for “Rico: Order of Distinction” is secondary, most important is the end result and that is convincing. “Rico: Order Of Distinction” has not become a pure instrumental album, because Dubtechniques were used in the mixing process, albeit not overly opulent.
Drury and Finch took the necessary time for this crisp production and thus earned Rico's music for the very last time the appreciation and respect it deserves.