Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Tommy McCook, Don Drummond, Vin Gordon|
Alpha Boys' School: Music in Education 1910-2006
Genres: Alternative Rock, World Music, Jazz, Pop, Rock
Listen to Samples
* ABSOLUTELY KILLER TROPICAL GROOVES *
Jasper | New England | 07/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a really, truly fantastic disc of (mostly) instrumental Jamaican grooves. At first blush "Alpha Boys' School" would appear to be a collection spanning the recording history of members and graduates of this famous orphanage, starting as it does with some nice 50s bop sides and ending with a 2002 recording of the school's anthem. Between these items, however, lies a rich vein of sweet, mostly instrumental Jamaican grooves from the peak of the island's classic era. Tracks five thru twenty hit an especially colorful time between the mid sixties and mid seventies, when ska morphed into rocksteady and on into reggae. Nowhere is this transition more smooth than on the instrumentals of the time, which always seemed to remain freer and less tethered to shifts in popular music than the vocals did, steeped as they were in jazzy brass lines, soulful organs, easy-skanking guitars, funky bass grooves, and frequent exotic spice in the form of flutes, vibraphones, or Nyahbinghi drumming. Going back to the brass, I should point out that it was the very essence of the Alpha Boys School music program, and without it the world would have been deprived of the Skatalites, and as a result, the entire history of Jamaican music, from ska onward, as we know it.
Included here we have some skanky, funky uptempo stuff coupled with some preternaturally mellow island vibes. All of it is tied together by the soul/funk/jazz mixture which these musicians infused with the skanky rhythms dominant in Jamaica at the time. It is remarkable how permanently hip this stuff has managed to sound. Vin Gordon, Lester Sterling, Cedric Brooks, Bobby Ellis, Rico Rodruigez, Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace, and a ton of others make glowing contributions to the proceedings, superb even by their own high standards. Lodged in with these instrumental tracks is a great vocal tune, Johnny Osbourne's "The Warrior," the funky beat and soulful horn lines of which make it fit right in. A good vocal soul tune and two R&B/soul instrumentals round out the set, but they are not especially of a piece with the heart of this CD, and are best enjoyed separately, as are the surprisingly sophisticated bop sides which begin the disc. As is to be expected with Trojan, some pretty rare tunes mingle with some not so rare ones; more seasoned collectors will have to make their own determinations in this regard. Note, however, that there is sure sound improvement from previous releases. For instance, the tune "James Ray" is massively improved over the version on "Trojan Instrumentals Box Set." The liner notes are very good, and the artwork is quite beautiful. Best of all, Trojan has actually included the DATES OF RECORDINGS, something basic which, sadly, is missing from even premium-priced releases of this sort.
Jazzy, breezy, and at times near-psychedelic, I've found that this disc is something that I can listen to over and over without ever tiring of, and I find it especially bliss-inducing as a summer soundtrack. Listen to tracks five thru twenty as one album, and you will have a glorious, cohesive, and really invigorating aural experience. For fans of instrumental Jamaican music, this is a phenominal set to file right next to Heartbeat's "Downbeat The Ruler," Soul Jazz's "Studio One Scorcher" (volumes 1 & 2), Universal Sounds' "Jackie Mittoo:Keyboard King At Studio One, and the "Trojan Instrumentals" box set."