Ernest Ranglin: Surfin' (2005)
Ranglin is one of a handful of surviving Jamaican musicians who can say "been there, done that," and he's never been reticent to share his musical experiences. This latest, his 13th recording as a leader, takes in all of the above-mentioned stylistic territory, but this seemingly free-ranging trip is united by the presencein one form or anotherof the shuffle beat. That shuffle is the pillar of early Jamaican music, and Ranglin exploits it to mostly good results on both up- and downtempo tracks.
It's evident on the title track, the first of sixteen on this CD. "Surfin'" and the similar "Surfside," which comes later, both feature heavy bass grooves (supplied by Mikey Fletcher) over which the maestro engages in his trademark lightning-fast chordal work. The latter track brings Jamaican saxophone ace Dean Fraser in on the act. "Diamond" also features Frazer's intensely soulful yet joyous phrasings, but in this case over a deep bed of Nyabinghi (an Afro-based religious sect mainly occupying hill country to the east of the island) drums.
The shuffle accelerates on tracks like the closer, "Yu Si Mi" (You See Me), which approximates the staccato repetitions of current dancehall, as does the aptly-titled penultimate track, "Dance All." "Reminiscing" is a brass-heay number that brings out the best in the varied front line.
Surfin' comes close to a wipeout on the one "big" number, "Dancing Mood II," a reworking of the Delroy Wilson vocal hit "Dancing Mood." The track is overproduced, and Floyd Seivright's singing doesn't come close to challenging Wilson's pained tenor or even adding anything new.
Despite that misstep, Surfin' is yet another welcome, if unessential, showcase of Ranglin's guitar mastery. It does coast in spots, but one can argue that he has nothing to prove at his point.
Track Listing: 1. Surfin; 2. Reminiscing; 3. Ketch It; 4. Freedom Dancer; 5. One Chord Stylee; 6. Jah Kana; 7. Ramouslin; 8. Surfside; 9. These Times; 10. Dancing Mood II; 11. Nyah; 12. Diamond; 13. Tender Moments; 14. September; 15. Dance All; 16. Yu Si Mi;
Personnel: Ernest Ranglin - guitar; Bo Pee Bowen - rhythm guitar; Dede Briscos _ trombone; Glen Browne - bass; Jeffrey Browne-tenor sax; Calvin Cameron-trombone; Firehouse Danny-bass; Dan Eaves-alto/tenor/britone sax; mark Feinberg -alto/tenor/baritone sax; Micael Fletcher-bass; Dean Frazer- tenor sax; Steve Golding- rhythm guitar;-Romeo Gray-trombone; Ian Hird-alto sax; Desi Jones -drums; Paul Kastick -drums; Stefan Klein-trumpet; Frederick Lasfargeas-piano; David madden trumpet; larry McDonald-percussion; Tom Schwartz-trumpet/flugelhorn; Floyd Lloyd Seivwright-vocals; Mike Smith-trombone; Derrick Stweart-drums;/percussion; Mallory Williams-keyboards; Wade Zabula Williams-drums and percussion
Record Label: Telarc Records
Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock