219

Ernest Ranglin: Gotcha!

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
All of a sudden, Ernest Ranglin is moving out front to receive the recognition he has long deserved—and which he has long received from knowing fellow musicians—as a result of his signing with Telarc Records at the urging of his fellow native Jamaican and long-time friend, Monty Alexander. Long respected by the likes of Randy Weston, Melba Liston, Bob Marley and Sonny Rollins, even as Marley eclipsed Ranglin in public recognition, Ranglin suddenly is being appreciated for the master guitarist that he is, and has always been. Part of what makes Ranglin such an honest musician is his integrity: He plays what he knows and what he feels, and he brings his audience along with him. Even though it may have taken several decades for his public audience to realize his irresistibility, musicianship and influence, at least it happened.

Ranglin finally received wide-scale distribution on his first Telarc release, Modern Answers To Old Problems, which combines the Afro-pop of Tony Allen, the jazz of Courtney Pine, the polyrhythmic percussiveness of Olalekan Babalola, the spirituality of singer Sylvia Tella's voice and the reggae of Ranglin. This mix worked sublimely, invigorating the performers and exciting listeners throughout the world.

But Ranglin, even within his parameters of consistency, isn't one to be repetitious. So, his new album, Gotcha! doesn't abandon the ethnic blend of the previous album, as much as it builds on it with an easier style arises from the rhythms of Ranglin's island homeland. While Courtney Pine added the jazz sensibility and inflections to Modern Answers To Old Problems, Antonio Hart, fresh from his search for world-music naturalism (see the JazzTimes article about him), synthesizes the complexity of jazz with the joyousness of reggae. Joining with Anthony Jackson, who worked with Monty Alexander, and "Crusher" Bennett of the Steely Dan and Spyro Gyra groups, Ranglin has recorded an album that remains always danceable and yet ever listenable as he improvises in his characteristic style over the pulse of each tune.

"Soulful Moments" eases the listener into the CD with a fairly simple tune that is what one would expect on the streets of St. Thomas or within an island resort. Hart's clear tone reassures, even as pianist Warren Bernhardt's flow relaxes. But then, "Blackout" picks up the tempo, not so much in an attention-getting drama as in a livelier approach that engages everyone in a sense of fun. Tunes like "Moondance" hold no surprises, even as the percussionists introduce the tune. And yet, the subtlety of Ranglin's interpretations rises above such histrionics as a mature and confident statement containing technical mastery and implications of his lifelong experiences. "Rock It With Me" doesn't startle, even though Ranglin could have chosen to do so. Instead, he nudges along the group in the current of his music and holds back the tempo to a moderate level. Younger guitarists would have chosen to accelerate the tune for the pyrotechnics instead of its communicative values.

Ranglin's influence is such that Bob Marley had asked him for lessons. Ranglin toured the Caribbean with his bands and came to the attention of American audiences 30 years ago and yet remained under the radar screen of most listeners who enjoy ska and reggae.

That's not true any longer. At the age of 69 (after June 19 of this month), Ernest Ranglin's status of "overnight sensation" finally is becoming true.

http://www.telarc.com

Title: Gotcha! | Year Released: 2001


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Elusive CD/LP/Track Review Elusive
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Transitions CD/LP/Track Review Transitions
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Incidentals CD/LP/Track Review Incidentals
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Door Girl CD/LP/Track Review Door Girl
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Heart Knows CD/LP/Track Review Heart Knows
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 22, 2017
Read Jersey CD/LP/Track Review Jersey
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 22, 2017
Read "3Divas" CD/LP/Track Review 3Divas
by Jerome Wilson
Published: August 2, 2017
Read "Oaktree" CD/LP/Track Review Oaktree
by Budd Kopman
Published: March 12, 2017
Read "Cultural Capital" CD/LP/Track Review Cultural Capital
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 4, 2017
Read "Sedimental You" CD/LP/Track Review Sedimental You
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 29, 2016
Read "Migration Blues" CD/LP/Track Review Migration Blues
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 26, 2017
Read "All My Treasures" CD/LP/Track Review All My Treasures
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 20, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.