Saturday, March 3, 2018

Ernest Always Gets an Upvote

Last night was a rough night- the nor'easter which hit the area (the wind is still gusting fiercely) took down a bunch of tree branches on the property at work, and at home the barbecue grill was knocked over, so I will have to right it when things get calm. Locally, an eleven year-old boy was killed by a falling tree limb. Driving to work had a surreal edge, truck traffic was halted on certain roadways, and passing a quarter-mile line of eighteen-wheelers isn't something that I'm used to.

It's still windy and cold, maybe it's time for a tropical breeze. At Roy's place, billcinsd and I were waxing lyrical about legendary Jamaican guitarist, composer, and arranger Ernest Ranglin. As far as I know, his greatest chart success as a session musician was playing behind Millie Smalls' worldwide hit My Boy Lollipop, and he was instrumental (heh) in defining the sound of Jamaican popular music forms ska, rocksteady, and reggae. He was also a titan of jazz, and collaborated on many recordings with countryman and piano legend Monty Alexander. The two have a great way of revealing the jazz roots of Jamaican popular music, with this Ranglin, Alexander, Sly & Robbie take on Surfin' being a standout (with Robbie Shakespeare's vocal performance channeling an old bluesman):

Mr Ranglin also does a great version of Augustus Pablo's seminal dub track King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown. Dub, with its recursive loops punctuated by snatches of melody, marries well with jazz:

There's a great live video of Ernest playing NPR's 'Tiny Desk' music series, and generally being awesome:

One of the jewels in my record collection is a promotional disc of Ernest Ranglin and Monty Alexander, purchased from a music archive housecleaning sale. I'm not a huge jazz fan, but Ernest always gets an upvote from me.

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