314

Various Artists: Downbeat The Ruler: Killer Instrumentals from Studio One

By

Sign in to view read count
Various Artists: Downbeat The Ruler: Killer Instrumentals from Studio One If a reggae instrumental compilation seems rather out of place in the context of a jazz site, rest assured that many of the players on these eighteen selections were or are major Jamaican jazz players. In a just world, their fame would be taken for granted in both jazz and reggae contexts. In our imperfect world, it's important to know that these jazz players of a high order aren't exactly slumming when they play three-minute reggae instrumentals.

All of these tunes from the late '60s and early '70s were recorded at Kingston's legendary Studio One under the guiding hand of producer Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, who was smart enough to realize that these musicians wouldn't get rich from performing jazz. He created studio bands, reining in the improvisatory flights of great players, but not curtailing their imaginative flights so much that you can't hear some stunning sax, trumpet and trombone solos throughout this disc.

In case you're wondering who is taking the solos, I am going to make some guesses, since label director and liner note annotator Chris Wilson was apparently too busy to do so. To begin with, there are some major jazz figures who are still alive and well in this country forty years later: guitarist Ernest Ranglin and saxophonist Cedric Brooks. Gone but hardly forgotten are keyboardist Jackie Mitoo and saxophonists Roland Alphonso and Tommy McCook. The legendary drummer Count Ossie may play on some tracks, and the rest are anyone's guess.

Outstanding tunes include "Swing Easy," which sets an old klezmer melody to reggae's rhythmic regularity, and "Love Again," where probable keyboardist Mittoo does some neo-psychedelic hollering and hooting to a background of Rastafarian ritual drumming and a bass line that sounds like it was stolen from the Stax/Volt valuts. The quotation from Lennon & McCartney's "Norwegian Wood" is a delight as the key motif in the oddly titled "Darker Shade of Black."

Jazz innovators looking for fascinating material to alchemize should listen carefully to these deceptively simple-sounding tracks. The rest of us can merrily skank and shuffle on a dance floor to the timeless Jamaican pop groove. Liner notes aside, this may be the best balanced slice of reggae instrumentals ever offered.


Track Listing: Rockfort Rock; Real Rock; Swing Easy; Mojo Rock Steady; Heavy Rock; Freak Out; Tunnel One; Moon Ride; Race Track; Throw Me Corn; Baby Face; Love Again; Darker Shade of Black; Banana Walk; Heavy Beat; Return of the Scorcher; Popcorn Reggae; Death in the Arena.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Rounder Records | Style: Latin/World


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Live At Edgefest" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Edgefest
by John Sharpe
Published: April 28, 2016
Read "Soul’s Journey Home" CD/LP/Track Review Soul’s Journey Home
by Jim Olin
Published: February 27, 2016
Read "Desire & Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by John Sharpe
Published: January 25, 2017
Read "Till They Lay Me Down" CD/LP/Track Review Till They Lay Me Down
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 5, 2016
Read "Special Night" CD/LP/Track Review Special Night
by Jim Trageser
Published: November 25, 2016
Read "Live In Ludwigshafen 1961" CD/LP/Track Review Live In Ludwigshafen 1961
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 21, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!