Tag Archives: Jazz

Soul Sugar’s Chase the Light is a journey through reggae, soul, funk and dub

soul-sugar-chase-the-lightFrench outfit Soul Sugar has on their latest album Chase the Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk & Dub) created an irresistible set devoted to vintage sounds with nods to greats such as Augustus Pablo and Jackie Mittoo.

Lead by keys man and composer Guillaume “Gee” Méténier it’s easy to guess that organ is a key part of the album. And it certainly is. His funky and soulful fingers are all over the album and he has even invited jazz man and organ wizard Dr. Lonnie Smith to add his flavor to album opener Take a Chance.

Chase the Light comes with previously cuts along with new material and dub versions. It’s largely instrumental, but features the vocal talents of soulful singers Courtney John and Leonardo Carmichael.

This is superb neo-soul, vintage reggae, blazing funk and psychedelic dub. All on one album and in perfect harmony and balance. It carries some mind-blowing grooves, ultra-swinging keys and experimental arrangements. A delightful album from a band I hadn’t heard about previously.

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Stand High Patrol creates a unique sound on third album The Shift

The Shift ArtworkFrench quartet Stand High Patrol – led and fronted by vocalist Pupajim – has released their third album The Shift. And on this album they have refined their jazz-oriented sound.

Unique is a well-worn word, but is probably most accurate when describing Stand High Patrol’s sonic identity. It’s a new type of urban groove where they break musical boundaries and create a highly individual sound where reggae singjaying meets 60s jazz and 90s hip-hop. Boom bap reggae rap so to say.

It’s an intelligent and infectious fusion. Highly organic and very dynamic with big beats. And key to Stand Patrol’s sound is trumpet maestro Merry. He graces the cuts with lonesome and distant horn lines.

Stand High Patrol’s sound and Pupajim’s broken English might not be for everyone and The Shift is far from the reggae mainstream. But if you’re in the mood for jazz with a hip-hop and reggae twist, well, then this is the album for you.

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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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Relaxed and playful from Ernest Ranglin and Avila

Cover1The latest effort from Jamaican guitar maestro Ernest Ranglin – one of the masterminds behind My Boy Lollipop, the first ever ska-hit – is a collaboration with Avila, a group of top session musicians from South Africa, Israel and the U.S.

Ernest Ranglin is 82 years old, but is still going strong showcasing his smooth and warm guitar playing on this 16 track set titled Bless Up. The album was for the most part cut live with analogue sound and is reggae jazz at its best and includes Arabic excursions, jazz workouts, skanking ska, upbeat latin and bouncy African touches.

It offers loads of different rhythm structures, textures and flavors. But keywords are probably relaxing and playful. You have no idea what comes next and there are a constant flow of surprises throughout the set.

Bless Up follows several strong instrumental sets in the past six months or so – just check Nicodrum’s Back to Fundechan, Jaime Hinckson’s Take Flight, Jamaican Jazz Orchestra’s self-titled debut and Addis Pablo’s In My Father’s House, which is not completely instrumental though. Hats off to labels and musicians for gambling and releasing albums like these.

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Bunny Marrett’s organic fusion of reggae and jazz

Singer and musician Bunny Marrett was born in Jamaica in 1941, but moved to the UK in his teens. He learned to play piano with ska pioneer Laurel Aitken and dropped his first and only single in 1981. He penned songs for Bristol buddies Black Roots in the 80’s and recorded an album in 1986, an album released three weeks ago by Bristol Archive Records.

Bunny Marrett has one foot in reggae and the other in jazz and blues. The result is an eclectic mix of rugged bass lines played on acoustic bass and a breezy back beat. The sound is organic and folksy and it’s certainly his own.

I’m Free holds eight tracks – six on the LP – of which are three/two are dub versions. Bunny Marrett’s non-melodic singing takes a while to get used to, and the backing actually shines brighter than the vocals, something that’s apparent in the dub cuts.

This is an unusual album, and an album that needs a few listens to get acquired to. A grower if you will.

Currently available on LP, CD and digital download.

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Mellow Baku gör det mesta själv

En blandning av soul, jazz och reggae. Så beskriver brittiska sångerskan Mellow Baku sin musik. I maj är hon aktuell med debutplattan Patchwork Prophecies, som hon ger ut helt på egen hand.

Bortom hiphop influerad jamaicansk dancehall och elektrisk brittisk dubstep finns reggaeartister som hämtar inspiration från mjukare genrer som jazz och soul.

Brittiska sångerskan Mellow Baku är en sådan. Hon växte upp i en kristen familj med en mamma som ofta och gärna sjöng både blues och jazz.

– Jag växte upp i ett hem utan vare sig tv, radio eller populärmusik. Att sjunga och spela gitarr var därför naturligt för barnen. Det är det enda liv jag känner till, säger Mellow Baku.

Hon var en av de starkast lysande stjärnorna på gruppen Soothsayers platta One More Reason från i fjol. Mellow Baku hade tuff konkurrens från andra gästartister, men sjöng ändå dreadsen av legender som Johnny Clarke, Michael Prophet och Linval Thompson.

One More Reason är en både jazzig och bluesig historia. Något som passar Mellow Baku perfekt, eftersom även hennes egen musik drar åt det hållet.

– Jag gillar det naturliga soundet man får om man använder bas, trummor och klaviatur. Det ska också helst vara akustisk bas eftersom det ger en varm känsla, menar Mellow Baku.

Hon säger att reggaerytmer är oslagbara för att skapa ett tungt groove, men att jazz och soul ger mer spelrum.

– Jazz och soul ger oändliga möjligheter att jobba kreativt med melodi och bas. Men jag är också inspirerad av världsmusik eftersom den är så mångsidig, berättar Mellow Baku.

Hon gör det mesta själv och har en tydlig DIY-attityd. På debutplattan Patchwork Prophecies, som släpps i maj, har hon skrivit nästan allt material själv. Dessutom säger hon sig inte behöva något skivbolag i ryggen.

– Det enda jag behöver är spelningar och möjligheten att sälja mina låtar. Jag har inte hittat något skivbolag ännu som gör det bättre än jag själv, utan att påverka kreativiteten. Men visst, hittar jag något som passar så vet man aldrig, säger Mellow Baku.

Patchwork Prophecies medverkar flera prominenta musiker, bland annat Steve Nutter och David Anderson, som tidigare spelat med skalegenden Laurel Aitken. Även hennes syster Michie One dyker upp på en av låtarna.

Fram till nu har hon haft fullt upp med att spela in material till debuten och härnäst hägrar spelningar för att marknadsföra materialet.

– De senaste fem åren har jag arbetat som sångerska för andra band på spelningar både live och i studio. Nu håller mitt bokningsbolag på att ordna spelningar för 2010 och 2011. Förhoppningsvis får jag möjlighet att även besöka Sverige, avslutar Mellow Baku.

Sex snabba till Mellow Baku

Bästa artist/grupp?
Bob Marley och Black Uhuru

Bästa reggaeplatta?
Exodus med Bob Marley och Sensemilla med Black Uhuru

Favoritgenre?
Roots och allt som har en spirituell eller dub vibe

Bästa reggaeproducent?
Lee”Scratch” Perry

Bästa skivomslag?
Originalomslaget till The Wailers Catch A Fire

Bästa rytm?
World A Reggae/World Jam och Sleng Teng

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