Ernest Ranglin – Below the Bassline (1996)

Below the Bassline is a successfully smooth integration of traditional reggae and jazz: two music forms that may not immediately spring to mind when contemplating the flawless mixture of music styles. However, the collective featured in this album — and Ranglin (a reggae and ska rhythm innovator) is a chief among them — plays 55 minutes of island tree-swaying, soul-backed precision. Ira Coleman’s bass playing is not the focus of this album, even though the title seems to suggest so. Nor does the focus of this album fall upon the popular funk and fusion (and yes, even disco) drummer Idris Muhammad. In fact, there is only one brief drum solo by Muhammad on Below the Bassline, and it is the first thing you hear. Muhammad opens up ‘Congo Man Chant’ with a snare-laden solo whose rhythm quickly involves Ranglin and Coleman, who collaborate to play eight bars of a rapid but laid-back bassline. Monty Alexander jumps in with the piano and brings Ernest along with him as they determine what ends up being the refrain for a moving piano solo sandwiched between two adept Ranglin solos. There are two ska rhythm selections on this album, ‘Ball of Fire,’ on which Roland Alphonso plays saxophone, and ‘Bourbon Street Skank,’ which features some of Ranglin’s most dexterous playing (also heard on ‘Nana’s Chalk Pipe’). The title track is immediately identifiable as reggae, with its organ stabs on the down side of the beat, Muhammad’s gentle but consistent treatment of the hi-hats, Ranglin’s lyrical playing on the guitar, and the overall slow, relaxed tempo and feel of the tune. It is an accurate capsule of Below the Bassline, another testament to the skill of the legendary Ernest Ranglin and the other musicians featured here.”

“Ernest Ranglin OD (born 19 June 1932) is a Jamaican guitarist and composer who established his career while working as a session guitarist and music director for various Jamaican record labels including Studio One and Island Records. Ranglin played guitar on many early ska recordings and helped create the rhythmic guitar style that defined the form. Ranglin has worked with Theophilus Beckford, Jimmy Cliff, Monty Alexander, Prince Buster, The Skatalites, Bob Marley and the Eric Deans Orchestra. He is noted for a chordal and rhythmic approach that blends jazz, mento and reggae with percussive guitar solos incorporating rhythm ‘n’ blues and jazz inflections.”

“You might not have heard of the name ‘Ernest Ranglin’ before, but unless you’ve been living in a nuclear bunker since 1948, your communication with the outside world restricted to carrier pigeons and smoke signals, it’s almost certain you’ve heard his tantalising brand of jazz/reggae/blues at some point in your life. It’s hard to describe what Ernest Ranglin has done for music without using hyperbole and similes, so I’ll just stick to the facts: He learnt to play the guitar on an instrument which comprised of a can of sardines and wires. His very first studio recording turned out the be the first album ever released by the now legendary Island Records. He played, recorded, and toured with Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, the Skatalites, Prince Buster, Peter Tosh, and Lee Scratch Perry, amongst others. You can hear him on tracks as diverse as the Melodian’s ‘River of Babylon’ and Millie Small’s ‘My Boy Lollipop’. He recorded the soundtrack to James Bond’s ‘Dr No’. He is credited with having participated in the very first recordings of what later became known as ska, rock-steady, Jamaican rhythm and blues, and reggae.”
It’s fluffy (Video)

YouTube: Surfin’ = Ernest Ranglin, Sly & Robbie, Monty Alexander (Live), Ram Jam, <Jamaican Legends feat. Sly & Robbie, Ernest Ranglin & Tyrone Downie (FULL DVD) 54:33

YouTube: Ernest Ranglin – Below The Bassline |FULL ALBUM|


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