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 Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "House Of Waters" CD/LP/Track Review House Of Waters
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 14, 2016
Read "Ena / One" CD/LP/Track Review Ena / One
by Budd Kopman
Published: March 26, 2016
Read "Acoustically Speaking" CD/LP/Track Review Acoustically Speaking
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 6, 2016
Read "The Magical Forest" CD/LP/Track Review The Magical Forest
by John Kelman
Published: August 4, 2016
Read "Innri" CD/LP/Track Review Innri
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 4, 2016
Read "My Scandinavian Blues: A Tribute To Horace Parlan" CD/LP/Track Review My Scandinavian Blues: A Tribute To Horace Parlan
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 8, 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!