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Ernest Ranglin & Avila: Bless Up

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The 16 tracks on this leisurely CD span the rowdy, the regal and the ruminative. They star Ernest Ranglin, who might be called the father of ska. He’s a Jamaican guitarist who can play both pensively and pyrotechnically, and even now, in his early 80s, he’s always tasteful and frequently startling. Ranglin wrote most of the tracks on this expansive project, and the music is sequenced perfectly for a party on a summer night. This is user-friendly music, world-beat style with a pronounced Kingston accent, and one can imagine how Ranglin and his Avilans might wail on this material in a club.

Ranglin’s pensive mode takes over on “Bra Joe From Kilimanjaro,” the warm second track, reprised at the end in “Bra Joe From Kilimanjaro (Home),” an even more relaxed and dreamy take of the same Abdullah Ibrahim tune. And while ska, rocksteady and reggae rhythms dominate, other feels also pertain, like the straight blues of the title track.

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