Start with a clipped, Caribbean rhythmic base, add a series of meticulously crafted, light layers, and top with the lithe, fleet-fingered work of a true guitar virtuoso, and you have the recipe for the relaxed, sparkling music populating Ernest Ranglin's Gotcha! (Telarc CD-83533; 57:19).
The Jamaican guitarist shows his chops in a range of moods, from the floating, interwoven "Way Back When" and the traditionalist elegance of "Thinking of You," to the bubbly, carnivallike "Moondance." Ranglin offers a light, sketchy look on the mellow-feeling "Soulful Moments," and artfully doubles saxophonist Antonio Hart for a frisky feel on the uptempo "Blackout," and the steadily building retro-romp title track. The constant here is that reggae-chugging, offbeat Caribbean rhythm, threaded through such unusual contexts as a laid back "Pass the Dutchie" (which many will remember as an early '80s novelty pop hit) and the aforementioned "Thinking of You," which, aside from the Caribbean bounce, has the character of a straight-jazz piece. The fact that it all works together as a seamless recipe is a testament to Ranglin's ability to transcend genre and offer a truly universal outlook.