Tag Archives: Groundation

Less jazz and more roots on Harrison Stafford’s One Dance

harrisonstafford_theprofessorcrew-onedance_01U.S. reggae band Groundation’s lead vocalist and front man Harrison Stafford is a man with many hats. Lecturer, music producer, movie producer, musician and singer are some of his talents. He’s probably best known for his work with Groundation, but already in 2011 he started a solo career as Professor with the album Madness, recorded after a pilgrimage to Israel and Palestine.

Now when Groundation is on a break he has a new project under his own name – Harrison Stafford & The Professor Crew. The first album One Dance was recorded in Jamaica in 2015 with seasoned musicians like drummer Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace and bass man Errol “Flabba” Holt.

One Dance is less progressive and more straight-forward compared to Groundation. It’s more traditional roots reggae owing quite a lot to Bob Marley heydays in the mid-70s, particularly album opener Jah Shine and the pulsating Morality, but with a number of detours, for example One Dance, the first single off the album, which is a jaunty ska tune with minor electro influences.

The Music is an infectious tribute to reggae itself with its breezy mento-inspired rhythm, sounding like something Steely & Clevie could have composed in the late 80s, but with live instrumentation.

Harrison Stafford’s bandmates in Groundation also have a solo project – Rising Tide – and their self-titled debut album dropped in March. That set is more traditional Groundation with lots of influences from jazz, funk and soul. One Dance is less jazz and more roots.

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Funky and sensual on Rising Tide’s debut album

Core members of internationally renowned U.S. reggae band Groundation has formed a new outfit – Rising Tide – and they have recently put out their self-titled debut album.

Harrison Stafford – lead vocalist and front man in Groundation – is not onboard the project and is expected to drop a solo piece later this year. And for those who are fans of Groundation, but struggle with Harrison Stafford’s nasal singing style, much like myself, will be very pleased with this set.

Rising Tide has on this album created an earthy sound combining elements of roots reggae, jazz, R&B and funk. It’s a cohesive set with a variety of singers sharing vocal duties, including songstresses Kim Pommel, Sherida Sharpe, Faith Waltson and Roselyn Williams along with French singjay Naâman, the Garnett Silk-influenced Lymie Murray and SOJA’s Jacob Hemphill.

The music reflects the 70s with jazzy improvisations – almost jam band like – and several songs are stretched out taking unexpected directions. The grooves are soft and sensual, just listen to the mystic Young, Strong and Beautiful, and funky and cool, check a cut like Positive Vibes, which sounds like legendary funk band Parliament could have recorded in a smoky Kingston studio.

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Reggae with jazz on Groundation’s A Miracle

unnamedHarrison Stafford’s second big project in 2014 is a brand new full-length album from his band Groundation. A Miracle is their eight album and follows Building an Ark, released in 2012.

Groundation has always made music rooted in Jamaican reggae, but with clear influences from jazz. And this new album is cooked according to the same successful recipe. The set sounds like it’s partly recorded via all-night jamming sessions where each player gets to shine. It’s harmonic, yet improvisational and shines light on both genres.

A Miracle also owes quite a lot to Bob Marley & The Wailers and albums like Rastaman Vibration and Exodus. Apart from several musical references it features the vocal talents of Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt – two of the founding members of Bob Marley’s backing trio the I-Threes. Neville Garrick, Bob Marley’s longtime friend and art director, has also made the cover sleeve.

Harrison Stafford’s singing style is as usual an acquired taste. It’s theatrical, nasal and dramatic. But he has proper backing from Jamaican singers Kim Pommell and Sherida Sharpe, two songstresses that add several well-needed harmonious dimensions.

Onboard is also three U.S. jazz musicians. And their talents can be recognized on tracks like Gone a Cemetary and Cupid’s Arrow.

This album is no miracle, but it’s definitely no disappointment for Groundation’s fans and followers.

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Harrison Stafford brings together three veterans for first side production

digisleeve-nattyOn June 3rd Groundation’s lead singer and front man Harrison “Professor” Stafford presents his first solo side production – Natty Will Fly Again. It brings together three seasoned Jamaican vocalists – Pablo Moses, Winston Jarrett and Congo Ashanti Roy from The Congos. The album was recorded in Harrison Stafford’s own studio in California as well as at the Harry J studio in Jamaica.

Harrison Stafford plays bass, drums and rhythm guitars, while Lloyd “Obeah” Denton has laid down organ, piano and synth. Dalton Browne is on lead guitar and Uziah “Sticky” Thompson handles percussion.

The album collects nine tracks and is in a press release described as roots reggae with jazzy arrangements.

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Groundation is just warming up

Californian-based reggae band Groundation has made a name for themselves with their progressive sound influenced by funk, soul and jazz. Since Goundation was formed 14 years ago the band has dropped seven studio albums, toured four continents and collaborated with Jamaican artists such as Pablo Moses, Don Carlos and the Congos.

Building an Ark is Groundation’s latest set. It was released in Europe on the small French label Soulbeats, while reggae giant VP handled the distribution in the U.S.

I had a chat with lead singer, guitarist and front man Harrison Stafford when the band visited France for a promotion tour. During our interview Harrison Stafford emphasizes the importance of education and explains why 14 years is just the beginning. Check the full article over at United Reggae.

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Groundation continue in the same progressive vein

Northern California’s reggae celebrities Groundation recently dropped Building an Ark, their seventh studio album, following 2009’s Here I Am.

This nine piece outfit was formed in 1998 by guitarist/singer/lyricist Harrison Stafford, keyboardist Marcus Urani and bassist Ryan Newman. Other members have fluctuated over the years, but have always included a brass section and strong backing vocals.

Groundation are no strangers to influences from non-reggae genres, and their albums – Building an Ark included – have been an eclectic melting pot of roots reggae, dub, jazz, funk, soul and salsa spiced with pop melodies.

Building an Ark has a distinct energetic live feeling throughout the ten tracks and also shows great musicianship via arrangements and several solos – guitar, trumpet, trombone and percussion particularly get the opportunity to show off.

The thing with Groundation though is Harrison Stafford’s singing style. It’s certainly an acquired taste, being nasal, nervous and dramatic. But the progressive musical backing along with soulful female backing vocals makes Building an Ark worth a few spins in the record player.

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Ny reggaedokumentär får premiär 2010

Holding On To Jah heter en ny dokumentär av filmaren Roger Landon Hall och reggaemusikern Harrison Stafford, sångare i amerikanska Groundation.

Dokumentären, som väntas få premiär under 2010, beskriver historien och kulturen bakom roots-reggaen samt den jamaicanska rastafarirörelsen med förgrundsfigurer som Marcus Garvey och Haile Selassie.

I filmen får man träffa flera välkända jamaicanska musiker, bland annat U Roy, Ijahman Levi och Ras Michael.

Jonathan Demme, regissören bakom När lammen tystnar och Philadelphia samt nya filmen om Bob Marley, ger Holding On To Jah tummen upp och säger ”There are editorial passages and hallucinatory stylistic techniques that I have never seen before. I watched it, fell in love, and delighted to a second viewing”. Låter som en riktig kioskvältare tycker Reggaemani.

Nästa år ser alltså ut att bli reggaefilmens år. En film om Bob Marley, en film om roots och en om rocksteady. Det måste vara rekord för reggaerullar under ett enskilt år.

Nyfiken på att veta mer? Spana in trailern här.

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