Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review from the Archives: Jimmy Cliff and Burning Spear at the New Ritz, NYC 8/25/92

[Editor’s note – this is what we do when we’re on vacation: raid our archive of over a thousand, mostly unpublished accounts of New York concerts for some blasts from the past. In the old days, August was reggae month – here’s a classic example]

Majek Fashek opened with his innocuous, percussive blend of reggae and afropop, surrounded by an entourage that included a midget percussionist and undulating female backup singers. Surprisingly, the Man from the Hills was next on the bill instead of headlining, playing mainly new and unfamiliar tracks from his just-released Jah Kingdom album (including the title track, a bouncy number, the only recognizable one of the new songs). He also did a handful of similarly pop-oriented, upbeat cuts like The Youth, from his Live in Paris album. Peering through slits of eyes, he delivered his signature loose extended jams on give-thanks-and-praise lyrical motifs. His hot band included a three-piece horn section, and a guitarist whose effects boxes provided organ and Stevie Wonder harmonica sounds. Jimmy Cliff followed with a driven and inspired performance: he’s political, pissed as hell, getting inspiration from all over the place and it shows. He told the crowd that the UN had made him a “spiritual ambassador.” He opened with War A Africa. Another new one, a slow, lush keyboard ballad, How Can There Be Peace attacked the Rodney King verdict. A surprisingly fresh version of The Harder They Come appeared as well as an even more surprisingly inspired, sweepingly majestic, powerfully rendered Many Rivers to Cross. His excellent band included three percussionists (four if you count Cliff) and two keyboardists, not to mention Cliff’s kids wandering the stage and toying with all the drums. The show ended with Cliff solo on acoustic guitar (he’s a lefty, as it turns out), playing A Higher and Deeper Love, the band finally joining him on the last chorus. An uplifting, redemptive note to end the night.

August 25, 2010 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, reggae music, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Album of the Day 8/10/10

Every day, we count down the 1000 best albums of all time all the way to #1. Tuesday’s album is #903:

Ernest Ranglin – Wranglin’

The preeminent Jamaican guitarist, Ernest Ranglin had led probably hundreds if not thousands of calypso and ska sessions by the time he recorded this album, only the second where he’d been credited as a bandleader. The original 1964 Island Records lp did not sell well and has been out of print for decades, but is happily still available as a bootleg, if a somewhat dodgy sounding one. Ranglin’s career began almost fifty years, during the age of calypso yard sessions (and the birth of what would become hip-hop twenty-five years later). He was probably in the studio, maybe playing, when Lloyd Knibb of the Skatalites invented the one-drop, which would transform ska into rocksteady and then into reggae. Ranglin served as Jimmy Cliff’s musical director throughout his 70s heyday, then mined a frequently transcendent reggae-jazz collaboration with pianist Monty Alexander in the 80s and 90s. Now almost eighty, he retains the vigor and vitality of a player fifty years younger. This album shows how developed his jazzy, Les Paul-influenced style had become by the early sixties, replete with whispery, lightning-fast filigrees that switch in a split-second into frenetic tremolo chords and then back again. Here he sticks with a straight-up 4/4 beat, taking British bassist Malcolm Cecil and drummer Alan Ganley into the Caribbean sun for a characteristically warm, expansive jaunt through a mix of originals and old mento standards like Linstead Market and Angelina. You can download it here.

August 10, 2010 Posted by | jazz, lists, Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment