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Picks 10/14/2012

October 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Spent most of my time dancing this weekend, I only have a few picks for y’all this time around.

Pulled from a trip to Fingerprints.

Earth Roots and Water – Innocent Youths (LITA/Summer, 2008/1977) – Pick of the Week!

I had no idea what I was getting into with this one, but I am so glad I took the chance. Heavy dub roots vibes out of Toronto on this excellent reissue from Light in the Attic. Typical of LITA reissues, the liner notes are thorough and give some great background information about the Toronto reggae scene in the mid 70s. But really, the record could be a white label in a plain sleeve and this would still be one of my favorite recent grabs. I really have to drive home that this record is all heavy vibes, with a dark and funky focus that reminds me of some of the records Augustus Pablo was recording at King Tubby’s or maybe some of Keith Hudson’s work. Listen to the eerie synth and mourning melodica on “Tribulations” or the scorching guitar and demonic mixing on the track above and its easy to see that this music did not come out of the same scene as on the island. This is a really strong low fi burner, the bass is deep and the drummer is on point with pretty much every track perfect for hanging out on a porch or for a dance out in the yard.

Don Cherry – Where is Brooklyn? (Blue Note, 1967)

I don’t listen to much free/avant garde jazz (although I do buy a lot of it…) but Don Cherry is just one of those guys who has a really great vibe, He rarely gets into ear-drill territory, keeping his work and groups into a very soulful form of expression. I picked this up for two reason; 1) This record features Pharoah Sanders in a piano-less quartet after the style of Ornette Coleman and 2) This is a first pressing in great condition, and it’s always nice to know I paid a lot less than its going rate. It deserves a mention that aside from the excellent work from Don Cherry and Pharoah Sanders, Henry Grimes on bass is wonderful to listen to. A very solid record, the group has a good energy and as you can hear in standout “Unite,” they reach into far out space but they manage to keep the music very interesting and engaging. Ornette Coleman’s write up on the back cover is pretty amazing too: “… if you question the meaning and placement of this music in your life living, then you have been baptized, if the music doesn’t cause you to question its meaning, and placement in your life don’t blame Cherry, Blackwell, Pharoah, and Henry.”

The Mighty Diamonds – The Roots is There (Shanachie, 1982)

Chune! Off the bat, let’s talk about Sly and Robbie. The most famous rhythm section in reggae (maybe all music?) are absolutely on point here. Recorded at Channel One and mixed at Tuff Gong, the sound quality is really strong here, with the bass sounding deep and syrupy while Sly sounds crisp and funky. Any record (of their 200,000 recordings) by this duo always demands a listen. This album is a mix of kinda cheesy roots tracks and a few deep tracks like the jam above or “The Roots is There.” The Mighty Diamonds are one of the first reggae acts that I fell in love with and subsequently ignited my interest in the music and culture. It’s easy to see the attraction of the group as Tabby Shaw really has a beautiful voice and the boys bring soulful Philly inspired harmonies tune after tune. As far as the canon is concerned, this record is not essential, but it is a really solid release. The production is fat and clean and the deep cuts on here have a lot of kick to them. Can’t wait to play this out on Thursday @ Molaa for the return of En La Noche!

Woody Shaw – The Moontrane (Muse, 1975)

Woody Shaw is one of the players whose 1970s, fairly straightforward hard bop I tend to pick up without discretion. The man is an incredible trumpet player who maintains a consistent element of soul in his playing. When I checked out the players + date on the back cover I was immediately beaming. Azar Lawrence (whose wonderful Bridge into the New Age I wrote about a couple of years ago) and Cecil McBee feature alongside a bigger group with two percussion players. As heard in the incredible “Sanyas” above, the group has beautiful energy – always together, and always propelling the groove forward. It’s worth to mention that this record precedes Shaw and Lawrence’s appearance on Harry Whitaker’s masterpiece, Black Renaissance. Although The Moontrane doesn’t quite get as spiritually funky as Whitaker, the playing is really strong and is a worthwhile engaging listen. Let’s see if I can squeeze “Sanyas” into a future set.

Categories: 2012, dancehall, jazz, reggae