Roberto Delprado Yulo Enriquez (1943-1996), better known as Bobby Enriquez, was a Filipino jazz pianist who became prominent in the United States and well-known internationally.

New York Times critic John S. Wilson wrote:

Mr. Enriquez has such a lively and attractive mixture of melodic appeal, rhythmic excitement and imaginative ability that he could be for the 1980s what Erroll Garner was to the 1950s.

Early life

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Bobby Enriquez was born on May 20, 1943 in Bacolod City, in the Philippines. Enriquez was a child prodigy who started playing piano at the age of two and began his professional career aged 12. He ran away from home at 15 and for the next nine years toured Southeast Asia playing jazz piano.

The time was late 1962. The place was Tainan, Taiwan where there was a small U.S. Air Force Officers Club for Tainan Air Station, a small U.S. Air Force installation. The Officers Club had a small four-piece Filipino group headed by "Pops" Fernandez, playing tenor sax, and a drummer, a bass player and a new piano player, Bobby Enriquez, whom nobody had ever heard of. The base legal officer had just transferred from the U.S. and had shipped over his record collection, including a large jazz selection with Oscar Peterson, Errol Garner, Dave Brubeck, Thelonious Monk and others - records which were not available elsewhere on Taiwan. Bobby would borrow an album and when you walked into the club the next evening you would hear the entire album - not just a copy but Bobby's own version with his own enhancement of what he had heard. Impressed, the officer asked Bobby if he read music. Bobby replied "a little", but that he wanted to learn more, particularly arranging. Berklee School of Music had correspondence material and off went an order. A series of correspondence courses that would normally take six months, Bobby finished in two weeks and was asking for more. Bobby was also a martial artist - following the Manila Street Brawl school. His reflexes were uncanny - he was as fast or faster than Bruce Lee and often worked out at a local small workout area near the Officers Club - it was these same reflexes that gave him his unbelievable speed and technique on the piano. In 1963 or 1964 Bobby married a local Chinese girl and had one child by that relationship. He often went to other military clubs and played with the Filipino groups there, leaving Tainan sometime in 1965.

In 1987 while broadcasting her weekly show "The Swing Years and Beyond" on the National Public Radio station KUOW in Seattle, WA, Cynthia Doyon had this to say:

Born on the island of Negros just north of Mindanao. his first love was the piano but his mother wanted him to concentrate on schoolwork. he started his professional career as a musician at the age of 14, sneaking out his second floor bedroom window at night to play gigs and when his mother found out what he was doing at night she shut down the piano and told him to concentrate on homework. So he ran away from home and went to Manila. Once in Manila, he joined various jazz groups and from there he played in Taipei and Hong Kong where he met such jazz lumineries as Mel Torme', Lionel Hampton, Tito Puente, and Chico Hamilton. And eventually he landed a major gig at the famed Golden Dragon Lounge in Honolulu, and while in Hawaii he became Don Ho's orchestra leader and musical director.

Career

In 1967, he arrived in Los Angeles and played briefly for The Sunspots, before moving to Hawaii where he became Don Ho's musical director. He also performed with Amapola (Amapola Cabase) from 1976 to 1977 in Japantown, San Francisco, California, followed by appearances at the Wagon Wheel, and eventually Harrah's Hotel In Lake Tahoe, Nevada. Alto saxophonist Richie Cole discovered him there and asked him to join his band. Enriquez participated in several Richie Cole albums in the 1980s, most notably Alive! at the Village Vanguard and the groundbreaking The Madman Meets The Wild Man.

He recorded a number of astonishing jazz albums for Crescendo Records in the 1980s and was known as "the Wildman" for his unpredictable yet engrossing piano style.

He is not the Bobby Enriquez whose name appears in the Internet Movie Database as playing a bartender in the 1988 movie Kansas (film) - this is a different artist.

Personal life

Enriquez' children with Jeanann Cortez are in order from the eldest - Melody, Melissa, Larissa, Robert Jean and Annalissa. He later remarried to Barbara Enriquez and had children named Alexander, Tatiana and John Robert who wasn't born when his father died in 1996. All his children inherited their father's musical gifts.

Enriquez became a born-again Christian in 1993 and openly spoke of how God "changed his life". He also played wonderful "jazz-style" hymns during church events in his local church in Bayonne, New Jersey. He died on August 6, 1996.