Hard Pass - Rafael Castro Jr


Nabori Nation had the opportunity to sit with Rafael Castro Jr., bassist for Nabori. We asked him a few questions. Rafael is one of the original members of Nabori now in its 10th year:




NN: Good afternoon Rafael; were you born and raised in Milwaukee?  

RC: Good afternoon, Yes. I was born in Milwaukee and was raised on the north side of the city around 32nd and Garfield.


NN:What person or event ignited your interest in music? What person or event drew your interest to Salsa music?

RC: My greatest influences in music were my father and family. Coming from a family of musicians, I ate and breathed Salsa. I used to tag along with my father Rafael Castro Sr., a long time band leader, to his rehearsals. My 1st bass teacher at age 7 was my cousin Wally Robles at the United Community Center. Then through the years my father kept my studies up, and I continued to learn and play classical & jazz in Middle School and High School. 


NN:What is the first Salsa record/cut you remember hearing or buying?

RC: The1st Salsa tune I remember listening to was El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico’s hit “Brujeria”. It was during a performance by the Milwaukee band Nacon; a band my father performed with.


 NN: The Rafael Castro fantasy salsa band includes yourself and which other salsa musicians?  

RC: The Rafael Castro Jr. Salsa band would consist of my father on 12 string Guitar, Giovani (Hidalgo) on Congas, Albert Rivera (from Nabori) on Bongos, Endel Dueno on Timbales, and Eddie Palmieri on Piano. The brass? Elliut Cintron on trombone, Angie Machado on trumpet, Harley Figueroa (also of Nabori) on baritone sax and to take it home, Luis Perico Ortiz on Trumpet.


NN: Who sings?

RC: Chamaco Ramirez


NN: What has been your favorite Nabori gig so far and why? 

RC: My favorite Nabori gig so far is probably the Voo Doo Lounge in Kansas City. Nice crowd, everybody dancing; that's the response I like to see from the audience. 


NN: What bass player (dead or alive) would you love to sit with and share your favorite drink with? What would you talk about?

RC: One of my greatest Bass player influences would have to be Pedro Perez of Puerto Rico, since in the late 80's and early 90's he recorded the majority of the popular records that I listened to back then. What would I talk about? Man…, I would just try to get tips and pointers from him. I’d ask him to give me a clinic. I would ask him about how it was playing all those recordings back then with the stars of this genre of Salsa.


NN: What drink are you sharing?

RC: Malta India!


NN: In your opinion the “Mount Rushmore” of Salsa includes which four bands?

RC: 1. Sonora Poncena; 2. Gran Combo de PR; 3. Grupo Niche; 4. Bobby Valentin y su Orquesta.


NN: 2015 marks Nabori's 10th year of existence. What does Nabori mean to you? 

RC: Well, what can I say? 10yrs. of my life with Nabori, by far the longest I have ever played with a band in my musical career. This band has taken me to new heights as a musician and pushed me to be the best and study my instrument more than ever. What does Nabori means to me?  Nabori is a band that, I feel, can still surpass its presence by making great music together by integrating each musician’s influences to make our perfect, identifiable sound. 


NN: Thank you so much Rafael for giving us a few minutes of your time today. Good luck in 2015!

RC: Thank you!