In the late 50s, Jamaican jazz guitarist Ernest Ranglin made the acquaintance of two men who would, with his help, have an enormous influence on music. Chris Blackwell, president of Island Records, met Ranglin in 1958 and released an album by him and pianist Lance Heywood. It was Islands first release. The following year, Ranglin joined a session band that recorded for Clement "Sir Coxsone" Dodds Studio One label. One of the bands tunes from 1959, "Shuffling Bug," is often cited as the first ska record. Ranglin would later appear on recordings by the Wailers and the Melodians, among others.
On the title track of his new disc, Ranglin revisits "Surfin," another song he recorded for Studio One. The new version of "Surfin" has the same rhythmic complexity as the original, and Ranglin plays it with even more energy and inventiveness. Surfin was very cleanly recorded in Jamaicas Tuff Gong Studios with some of the countrys great jazz players, including guitarist Bo Pee and keyboard player Robbie Lyn. Ranglins jazz is based on Caribbean rhythms, but his restless musical curiosity has taken him from London to Senegal, and Surfin shows the influence of his travels.
The tunes on Surfin are tightly arranged, with the supporting musicians doing ensemble work. Ranglin takes most of the solos, and his playing style seems so effortless that it takes a while to hear how much hes playing and how well. Ranglins soul-jazz lays down a steady groove, but his melody-filled playing will feed your head, too.
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