Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

2

Various Artists: Putumayo Presents: Ska Around the World

Jim Trageser By

Sign in to view read count
For casual fans and newcomers to the music of Jamaica (a growing number, given the popularity of the BBC / France 2 TV mystery series Death in Paradise and its Jamaican-infused soundtrack), the definitions of ska vs. reggae are likely too obscure to worry about. Much as only hardcore jazz fans worry about drilling into the differences between cool and bop, those who simply love the sun-drenched rhythms of all the postwar popular styles of Jamaica are content to listen to the music and not fret over whether a song is most properly classified as ska or reggae—or dancehall, dub or rocksteady, for that matter.

Putumayo World Music's Ska Around the World is a delightful exploration of Jamaican music and its global influence. The collection includes tracks from bands hailing from as far afoot as St. Petersburg, Russia, Amsterdam, and Basque country. Most of the tracks are dripping with the island rhythms, with most of them also having streaks of other styles local to their home base.

Still, even taking such a broad view of the music, the Dutch band, Zazí, is the one act that doesn't really fit in here. "IJssalon Bernardo," has a few Jamaican flourishes, with a muted ska beat and bright horn charts, but the overall feel is that of a Eurovision entry. It feels as if Abba had No Doubt backing them for a song. On the other hand, it's an absolutely hook-filled pop nugget.

But that one hiccup in stylistic consistency is dwarfed by the rest of the collection.

The album starts off strongly, with a contribution from Brazil by the Orquestra Brasileira de Música Jamaicana. "Atlântida" is a swing-ska mashup with a lilting beat that falls somewhere between Kingston and São Paulo. It's one of those delicious meldings that looks like it shouldn't work on paper, but the band pulls it off flawlessly.

The Basque band Akatz performs in Spanish, providing another multicultural intersection set to music. It's more downtempo than the opening track, but is still completely anchored in the rhythms of Jamaica.

Jamaica itself is represented by The Skatalites with a 2001 track, "Glory to the Sound." It's not one of their signature hits and was recorded long after their heyday, but still shows a band at the top of its game—tight arrangements impeccably performed.

The Russian St. Petersburg Ska-Jazz Review, approaches ska the way Brian Setzer or the Squirrel Nut Zippers approach swing: updated for a new generation, with modern flourishes and a contemporary sensibility. The New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble comes at the music from a similar sensibility, and both bands give ska a full-throated big band sound—as if Dizzy Gillespie had leaned toward Jamaica instead of Cuba.

But the absolute highlight of this collection is "Ecos de Radio Iguana," by North African world beat star Sarazino. From a purely technical standpoint, this track probably isn't any more ska than the Dutch band referenced above. And yet, he so utterly integrates a ska vibe into the fabric of his own vision that it feels completely at home here. His approach is not too far off from the better-known Manu Chao, in that he borrows freely from everything and in so doing creates something fresh and new and instantly unforgettable.

Track Listing: Atlântida; The Real Ska; Así Eres Tu; Glory To The Sound; IJssalon Bernardo; Duck Soup; Playing for Change; Buttah; Ecos de Radio Iguana; Policy of Truth.

Personnel: Orquestra Brasileira de Música Jamaicana; Chris Murray; Akatz; The Skatalites; Zazí; The Pepper Pots featuring ASPO; Chanda Mama; The New York Ska​-​Jazz Ensemble; Sarazino; St. Petersburg Ska​-​Jazz Review.

Title: Putumayo Presents: Ska Around the World | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Putumayo World Music

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Sleepers Wake

Sleepers Wake

Various Artists
Snowfall

Winter Waltz

Winter Waltz

Various Artists
Winter: An Origin Records...

CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
DVD/Film Reviews
Read more articles

Related Articles

Read Everything's OK CD/LP/Track Review
Everything's OK
by Doug Collette
Published: December 16, 2018
Read Making Bones, Taking Draughts, Bearing Unstable Millstones Pridefully, Idiotically, Prosaically CD/LP/Track Review
Making Bones, Taking Draughts, Bearing Unstable Millstones...
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 16, 2018
Read Legacy CD/LP/Track Review
Legacy
by Doug Collette
Published: December 16, 2018
Read Other Life Forms CD/LP/Track Review
Other Life Forms
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2018
Read Live At Moods CD/LP/Track Review
Live At Moods
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 16, 2018
Read Runner in the Rain CD/LP/Track Review
Runner in the Rain
by Troy Dostert
Published: December 15, 2018
Read "Minus" CD/LP/Track Review Minus
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 12, 2018
Read "The Pocket Philharmonic Orchestra, Peter Stangel – Beethoven Revisited Symphonies 1-9" CD/LP/Track Review The Pocket Philharmonic Orchestra, Peter Stangel –...
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 24, 2018
Read "Inspiration" CD/LP/Track Review Inspiration
by Chris May
Published: May 6, 2018
Read "The Aqua Diva" CD/LP/Track Review The Aqua Diva
by Don Phipps
Published: October 31, 2018
Read "Rummage Out" CD/LP/Track Review Rummage Out
by John Sharpe
Published: November 10, 2018
Read "The Planets" CD/LP/Track Review The Planets
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 6, 2018