Below The Bassline
Island Jamaica Jazz

You may not know it, but you have heard Ernest Ranglin a thousand times before, playing on Millie Small's "My Boy Lollipop" and a dozen classic Prince Buster tracks, cranking the guitar line on ska and roots-rocker tunes for decades. He was there at "the beginning," at the Jamaican pop music revolution of the 50s and 60s, and he's back now. Below The Bassline is a risky endeavor, taking classic tunes like "Congo Man" and "Black Disciples" and reinventing them for the nineties, not as pop-crossover but as true spirited visitations to the great music of the past. Fortunately, he has not only his own formidable skill as a musician, but the equal brilliance of pianist/arranger Monty Alexander and a band that includes Idris Muhammed and Ira Coleman in the rhythm section, and Roland Alphonso on the horns. What they have come up with is a heavy, solid mass that harkens back to Wes Montgomery and then shouts forward to hip-hop and dancehall, with amble homage to reggae and ska, and above all, a searing contemporary jazz that never becomes cheap pop. It's brand new music from classic roots, and above all, it just grooves on and on.

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