Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Monty Alexander/Ernest Ranglin: Rocksteady

Quincy Jones is said to have remarked of his bond with Ray Charles, “Friendship is really just good air.”

On this, their umpteenth album collaboration since the scatologically titled 1974 LP Rass! (a Jamaican expletive), Monty Alexander and Ernest Ranglin fill their own good air with some gems from their country’s late ’60s to late ’70s pop-music canon. Most compelling of the lot are the Congos’ “Fisherman,” with Ranglin’s guitar approximating the eerie falsetto of Cedric Myton on the original, Burning Spear’s “Marcus Garvey” and Toots and the Maytals’ “Pressure Drop” (best known from the breakthrough Harder They Come soundtrack), on which the gravelly voiced maestro guests. Ranglin consistently supplies that unique combination of skittering rhythmic touch and weighty grooves that made the originals so memorable. The rhythm section, including drummer Quentin Baxter, percussionist Courtney Panton, rhythm guitarist Jr. Jazz and particularly bassist Hassan Shakur, demonstrate affinity for the uncomplicated sensuality of the material. On Desmond Dekker’s working stiff’s anthem “Israelites,” for example, Shakur provides resolute yet unobtrusive counterpoint to the more lighthearted stylings of the two leads.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published