Online since August 2002

Jamaican jazz grooves, mon

Reviewed May 2005

By Ernest Ranglin

Telarc Records: 2005

To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.

The title of Jamaican-born guitarist Ernest Ranglin's new disc, "Surfin'", might not say it all about the sound, but it does say a lot. During the surf music heyday in California – the early sixties, the time of "Endless Summer" and dozens of other lower budget surf flicks – the indigeneous (Californian) surf music scene offered crunchy guitar licks over three simple chords, the occasional growling tenor sax, and smooth flowing grooves.

Ranglin's "Surfin'" has all that, as it skims the sonic airwaves with an added spicy island flavor. And we're not talking Hawaii here; the added spice on "Surfin'" is a smooth Jamaican blend – tangy and piquant, a mix that sounds always relaxed, in an insouciant and frictionless forward momentum groove, with the trademark bubble of Caribbean percussion, the exuberant Nyabinghi drumming stirred up with African Gold Coast and New Orleans rhythms. Put on your dancin' shoes!

Ernest Ranglin has been at his six string craft for over forty years, starting out as a major player in the early sixties in Jamaica during emergence of the ska sound. "Surfin'" showcases his straightfoward guitar work – beautifully complex comping, wonderfully simple single note lines – on sixteen Jamaican-flavored tunes, mostly instrumentals, with a couple of vocal tracks thrown as a bonus. The title tune sounds like a classic, with just guitar, bass, piano, organ, drums and percussion, while most of the tunes feature a horn section, mixed down a bit low, so the guitar is always the star. Fittingly so.

Good time sounds that get under your skin and make your feet move.

Review by Dan McClenaghan. Dan is a writer living in Oceanside, Calif. Read his biography on his AllAboutJazz.com page.

CD Review Archive | Music Home Page | Turbula Home Page