I joined the Charlie Rodrigues Band at tne Dorado Beach Hotel in Puerto Rico in 1960, the first year the Hotel opened. The bass player and singer was Raful Martinez. Drummer Angel Dueno joined the group a year later. The three of us were together for 10 years, playing six hours a night six nights a week and got so tight that we were finishing each other's musical sentences like Donald Duck's nephews Huey Dewey and Louie. When Charlie decided to take the band to St. Thomas in 1965, the three of us stayed on as as trio until mid 1970. The hotel was owned by Laurence Rockefeller. Whenever "Rocky" as Raful called him got out on the dance floor we would play "Mr. Sandman" and he would dance by and thank us for playing his favorite song and was the management treating us OK? The Hotel catered to the International Jet Set and the clientle included many celebs. One night we had Hubert Humphrey, Senator Fulbright, Leonard Bernstein, Benny Goodman and Ava Gardner in the house. Ava stayed for a month and sent us a round of drinks every night. Raful had a huge voice and his renditions of "Babalu" and "Granada" would bring the house down.
As a bass player he had perfect pitch and absolute time and I never had to call a tune or set a tempo. I would start playing and the right bass notes and groove was always there. Angel had the fastest hands and ear of any drummer I ever worked with. He was a flamboyant drummer who loved to play jazz and emulated Art Blakey. On Latin stuff he sounded like a complete 3 man percussion section. As far as I know, these are the only surviving recordings of Raful's rich full voice. He and Angel are now playing in the Big Casino Lounge in the Sky. But I'm still here and found these tracks on LPs while cleaning out the garage. They bring back fond memories of an elegant era and an elegant property.
The Dorado Beach was sold by Rockresorts in the 70's and it gradually declined from it's heyday into mediocrity and closed in May 2006. Currently the Caribbean Business News reports that there are plans to restore it to it's five star splendor. Hope I'm around to see that. Anyhow, thanks "Rocky" for a wonderful ten years.
From Puerto Rico with Love