All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

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...

9

Ranky Tanky: Ranky Tanky

James Nadal By

Sign in to view read count
Against all odds, the Gullah tradition prevails on the Sea Islands of South Carolina's Low Country. Maintaining their West African traditions and singular way of life for generations, their direct impact on African-American music is undeniable, and continues to be a vital source of inspiration. Combining revered Gullah kinship with a jazz sensibility, Ranky Tanky accentuates the spirituality connected to the ring shouts and praise houses, proposing a modern rendition of their ancestral music.

Ranky Tanky loosely translates into 'work it' or 'get funky' in Gullah/Geechee, a language which still preserves many African words and phrases intermingled with English, to form an established patois. The core band of trumpeter Charlton Singleton, bassist Kevin Hamilton, guitarist Clay Ross, and drummer Quentin E. Baxter, go back over twenty years to music school, and a seminal Charleston jazz quartet, and are augmented by powerful vocalist Quiana Parler, with an impressive resume of her own.

The selections, all traditional spirituals and folk songs, anchored by original soulful intent, have undergone a contemporary polish. "That's Alright," invokes a Sunday service revival, emphasized by energetic handclapping and holy tambourine. There is a bible study thread winding through "Turtle Dove," an interesting guitar and trumpet improvisation flowing under the vocals. Parler goes acapella in the melancholic wail "Been In the Storm," accompanied sparsely by Baxters' mallet embellishments on the drums, the sacramental transporter of the spirits.

They kick it up with the title track, performed in a celebratory atmosphere, Singleton taking over lead vocals on the rousing call and response. The magnificent and mournful "O Death," illustrates a desperate plea to the grim reaper to be "spared over for another year"; a prime example of the groups' ability to reimagine their music. The trumpet introduced "Sink Em Low," exposes Parler's emotional depth and superb sense of vocal authenticity. These two songs are both influenced by Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers, essential Gullah musicians whose recordings have considerable historical importance.

The revolving arrangement on "Knee Bone," begins with vocal, clapping, and tambourine, sliding into a syncopated jazz section, the muted horn and guitar cleverly coaxing it back around. Sacred and secular merge into the familiar blues "You Gotta Move," and the rolling "Go To Sleep," is a soft acoustical lullaby. Ross and Singleton sing "You Better Mind," which is set at a marching tempo reminiscent of the drum and fife bands, and they wind it up with the cordial "Goodbye Song."

In spite of the harsh conditions of slavery the original Gullahs had to endure, the fact that they managed to uphold their communal harmony and resolute sense of hope is highly commendable. Their isolation on the coastal islands has been a blessing in disguise, as they are one of the few black communities in America preserving their African roots. The music presented by Ranky Tanky is a serious homage to these people, offered as an artistic reflection of who they are. Hopefully, this record will inspire others to investigate and appreciate the Gullah tradition, while it exists.

Track Listing: That’s Alright; Turtle Dove; Been In The Storm; Ranky Tanky; O Death; Knee Bone; You Gotta Move; Watch That Star; Sink Em Low; Join The Band; Go To Sleep; You Better Mind; Goodbye Song.

Personnel: Quentin E. Baxter: drums; Kevin Hamilton: bass; Quiana Parler: vocalist; Clay Ross: guitar, vocals; Charlton Singleton: trumpet, vocals.

Title: Ranky Tanky | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Faroe CD/LP/Track Review
Faroe
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 15, 2018
Read The Darkness Of A Fairy Tale CD/LP/Track Review
The Darkness Of A Fairy Tale
by Gareth Thompson
Published: August 15, 2018
Read Stained Glass & Technicolor Grooves CD/LP/Track Review
Stained Glass & Technicolor Grooves
by Chris Mosey
Published: August 15, 2018
Read A Journey CD/LP/Track Review
A Journey
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 15, 2018
Read Decay Of The Angel CD/LP/Track Review
Decay Of The Angel
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 14, 2018
Read Encontros - Orquestra Atlantica CD/LP/Track Review
Encontros - Orquestra Atlantica
by Chris Mosey
Published: August 14, 2018
Read "Origins" CD/LP/Track Review Origins
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 20, 2018
Read "Pass If Music" CD/LP/Track Review Pass If Music
by Mark Sullivan
Published: June 26, 2018
Read "Chimeric Stoned Horn" CD/LP/Track Review Chimeric Stoned Horn
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 3, 2017
Read "The Conscience" CD/LP/Track Review The Conscience
by John Sharpe
Published: August 18, 2017
Read "Dream Theory In Malaya: Fourth World Volume Two" CD/LP/Track Review Dream Theory In Malaya: Fourth World Volume Two
by Chris May
Published: February 25, 2018
Read "Colours of Sound" CD/LP/Track Review Colours of Sound
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 23, 2018