U.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.
Groundation’s lead singer and front man Harrison ”Professor” Stafford has brought together three reggae veterans for a new album titled Natty Will Fly Again.
The set features Winston Jarrett, Pablo Moses and Ashanti Roy from The Congos. These three singers had their heydays in the 70s, even though both Pablo Moses and Ashanti Roy have presented strong material over the past years.
The album was recorded at Harrison Stafford’s own studio in California and later voiced at the legendary Harry J studio in Jamaica. It comes with a healthy 18 tracks – nine vocal cuts and nine dub versions.
Each singer has three songs each, and Ashanti Roy is the one that shines the brightest. Partly because he has the best and most interesting voice, but also because he has been treated with strongest material. His Hallelujah and Poor People almost sound like The Congos did in the late 70s – haunting and eerie.
Natty Will Fly Again is a testament that many seasoned reggae singers still have plenty to offer, even though it’s hard to outshine their efforts back in the day
On 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.
Pioneering deejay U Roy is sometimes labeled as the originator of the modern Jamaican deejay style and has been a vital force in reggae music since the late 60’s when he scored his first smash hits and held the three top spots on the Jamaican music chart with Wake the Town, Rule the Nation and Wear You to the Ball recorded over some of the late Duke Reid’s biggest rock steady cuts.
He has recorded music for almost five decades, including working with Niney, Joe Gibbs, Tony Robinson, Tappa Zukie and Mad Professor. His two latest sets – Now released in 2001 and Rebel in Styylle put out in 2003 – have been combination albums, meaning U Roy joining forces with a singer on each track.
His brand new album Pray fi di People is in the same style, and has U Roy teaming up with Jamaican, African, American and European singers, including Marcia Griffiths, Horace Andy, Chezidek, Tiken Jah Fakoly and Harrison Stafford aka Professor from U.S. progressive reggae rockers Groundation.
The album was produced by Bravo in Jamaica and collects 13 live played tracks over mostly refurbished vintage riddims, of which one is a cover version of Toots & The Maytals’ 70’s party starter Pomps and Pride. Tarrus Riley does a fine interpretation as Toots.
Pray fi di People might be a bit ordinary and generic, and U Roy is a little less energetic compared to his previous work, but considering the man being 70 years old he certainly does an excellent job. And the album is at its best when he shares vocal duties with the dramatic voiced Professor and the sweet timbre of Horace Andy.
Pray fi di People drops on French Soulbeats Records on Tuesday October 9 as CD and digital download.