Western Consciousness Calls for Peace

Category : Reggae News

Promoters of the Western Consciousness show have dedicated this year’s event to some of the most crime-plagued areas in the tourist city of Montego Bay.

Western Consciousness’ 25th staging takes place in Montego Bay on April 13.

“People know Montego Bay as the friendly city, but that hasn’t been the case in some places. We believe the potency of Western Consciouness can help bring back that friendliness,” said the show’s founder/promoter Worrell King.

Honouring Yabby You

Category : Reggae News

The legacy of roots visionary Yabby You will be revisited this year in the form of a box set from American independent record company Shanachie Records.

Randall Grass, head of Shanachie, says no date or title has been confirmed for the album. He indicated that the project will do justice to one of roots-reggae’s unheralded artistes.

Yabby You

Randall Grass

“We believe Yabby You is under-appreciated and should be mentioned in the same breath as Augustus Pablo, Lee Perry, Culture and Burning Spear,” said Grass.

He disclosed that the proposed album will be a diverse one. It is likely to comprise two compact discs, extensive liner notes from persons who knew and worked with the singer/producer as well as a DVD.

Yabby You (given name Vivian Jackson) died in early 2010 in Clarendon at age 63. A protégé of master engineer Osbourne ‘King Tubby’ Ruddock, he began recording in the early 1970s as founder of The Prophets, a group that included guitarist Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith, Wailers bassist Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett and drummer Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace.

With Ruddock as producer, Yabby You and The Prophets cut a series of inspirational songs including “Conquering Lion”, “Love Of Jah” and “Warn The Nation”.

Gregory’s Love Box released

Category : Reggae News

A four-CD collection featuring many of the songs that made Gregory Isaacs a lovers rock icon was released on February 14 by Tads International Record.

Love Box is the title of the multi-track set which includes classics such as “Soon Forward”, “Tune In”, “Night Nurse”, “Sunday Morning”, “Oh What a Feeling” and “My Number One”.

Other songs such as “Lonely Soldier” and “If I Can’t Have You” are also on the set. Those tracks were popular in Britain where the ‘Cool Ruler’ had a strong fan base.

Isaacs was a popular underground singer from west Kingston in the early 1970s. He had solid hits with “All I Have Is Love” and Love Is Overdue” but it was not until late that decade that he became an household name.

Isaacs died of cancer in London in October, 2010 at age 59.

Reggae Brittania Documentary

Category : Reggae News

How Jamaican music helped transform Britain’s pop music and society, is the subject of Reggae Brittania, a documentary currently being shown by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).  Reggae Brittania is directed by respected English film-maker Jeremy Marre who looks at the impact Jamaican popular music had on British youth in the 1960s.
Through interviews with Aswad’s Brinsley Forde and David Hinds of Steel Pulse, Marre also examines how ska, rock steady and roots-reggae affected first-generation British West Indians.
“I wanted it to be a positive story, to show how reggae in this country
evolved and impacted on British music, society and even politics. And how reggae as it evolved here, took on a kind of Britishness,” Marre told The Telegraph newspaper.
The first wave of West Indian migration to Britain took place in 1948 when hundreds of islanders arrived on the SS Windrush to help boost that country’s economy which had taken a beating during World War II.
Many first-generation British West Indians, like Hinds, were born in the
1950s. He recalls how difficult it was for him and other black youth
attending school in a pre-dominantly white society.
Hinds said he was taught about pivotal events in British history, like the
Battle of Hastings. It was when he started listening to music from his
parents’ native Jamaica that he finally discovered “something that was
ours”.
Ska had a major following among rebellious British youth named Skinheads
in the 1960s. Jamaican artistes like Millie Small, Desmond Dekker and Dave
Barker and Ansell Collins, all had hit songs in Britain during that
decade.
That trend continued in the 1970s when singers Junior Murvin and Boothe
entered the national charts with Police and Thieves and Everything I Own,
respectively. But it was the Afro-centric themes of roots-reggae that had
the biggest bearing on budding singers like Hinds and Forde.
They were strongly influenced by Bob Marley and Burning Spear whose music
was distributed by a London company named Island Records. Island would
also help nurture the careers of dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, Aswad and
Steel Pulse, who decried the high level of social and racial prejudice in
Britain.
These acts were alternatives to punk rockers like The Clash and Sex
Pistols. Steel Pulse, especially, would become popular in Jamaica
throughout the 1980s, thanks to critically-acclaimed albums like True
Democracy.
Jeremy Marre has been producing films and documentaries since the 1970s.
He has done feature-length projects on Marvin Gaye, James Brown and Phil
Spector.

Tribute to Wilton Gaynair Concert

Category : Reggae News

The music of a Jamaican jazz hero returned to the local stage on March 13 with the Tribute to Wilton Gaynair concert at the Institute of Jamaica’s Lecture Hall in downtown Kingston.  The Tony Greene Quartet paid homage to him with a five-song set that included four Gaynair originals: Kingston Bypass, Wilton’s Mood, Deborah and Rianyag. They completed the set with Joy Spring, originally done by the American trumpeter Clifford Brown.  Gaynair, a saxophonist and graduate of the Alpha Boys School, died in Germany in 1995 at age 67.  Herbie Miller is curator/director at the Jamaica Music Museum, a department of the Institute of Jamaica. He said he hopes to present a monthly series dedicated to Jamaican jazz greats, some of whom left Jamaica for North America and Europe in the 1950s and 1960s.
“This is the first step to revive the music of these masters whose
contributions have been overlooked,” Miller said.
Prior to the live segment, Miller presented an audio-visual reflection on
Gaynair’s life and work.
Greene, who is also an Alpha graduate, was accompanied by Sherwayne
Thompson on bass, Ozou’ne on piano and drummer Obed Davis. Several of
Gaynair’s friends from the Rockfort area of Kingston attended the event.
It was the second Gaynair tribute in recent months featuring the Greene
Quartet. The first took place at the Miami Jazz Film Festival last
October.
Gaynair was born in 1927 and entered Alpha in 1940, staying there for four
years. During the 1940s, he was a member of the All Stars Band that also
included Tommy McCook, his younger brother Bobby who was also a
saxophonist and trumpeter Sonny Bradshaw.
Gaynair moved to Germany in 1955. There, he recorded the albums Blue Bogey
and Africa Calling in 1959 and 1960, respectively. A third album,
Alpharian, was released in 1982.
While in Germany, Gaynair played in a number of jazz bands and worked with
greats like bandleader Gil Evans, singer Shirley Bassey and new wave swing
bands like the Manhattan Transfer.
He was also part of the band that performed at the opening ceremony of the
1972 Munich Olympics.
After suffering a stroke in 1983, Gaynair was unable to play music again
and died 12 years later. Bobby Gaynair, the only surviving member of the
All Stars Band, lives in Nova Scotia, Canada.

The Guilty Verdict of Buju Banton

Category : Reggae News

The guilty verdict against reggae star Buju Banton in a Tampa, Florida Federal court on February 22 has had a profound impact on the artiste’s colleagues and fans, some of whom believe it will have a negative effect on Jamaican music.  Buju, 37, will be sentenced on June 23.  He faces a lengthy prison term after a 12-member jury found him guilty on three of four charges. Legal experts say he can be handed a minimum 15-year sentence or serve as many as 40 years behind bars.
The news broke in Jamaica as soon as the verdict was returned early afternoon. For a group of musicians at the Mixing Lab studio in Kingston, the outcome was devastating.
“It’s a sad moment, it’s obvious the prosecutor wanted to get him based on the new charges,” said deejay Tony Rebel. “But it’s a sad day for Rasta and the youths who look up to Buju.”
Singer Junior Reid had scathing words for the US legal system.
“It’s a conspiracy to get out reggae music. With Buju gone, a big part of reggae music chop off,” he said.
Deejay Chad “Mr. G” Simpson believes reggae artistes out of Jamaica will have it tougher when they are traveling.
“There will be a lot more scrutiny. I see a lot of problems for the business,” Mr. G said.
Buju and two other men were arrested by Federal agents in south Florida in
December, 2009. They were subsequently charged with conspiracy to possess
with intent distribute cocaine.
Mack and Thomas pleaded guilty to the charges and face life imprisonment.
Buju pleaded not guilty to the charges, but was slapped with additional
firearms charges in January.
His initial trial ended with a hung jury last September. He was given bail
in November and had been under house arrest at his Tamarac home.
Arguably the most popular of reggae’s new wave of roots artistes, Buju
Banton broke through in the early 1990s with the song “Browning”. Numerous
dancehall hits followed, but he is best known for the epic 1995 album,
“Til Shiloh” which contained songs like “Untold Stories”, “Not An Easy
Road” and “Murderer”.
One week before he was found guilty, Banton’s “Before The Dawn” won the
Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album.

Reggae Industry Association Recognized by the Music Industry

Category : Reggae News

In March, 17 music industry stalwarts were recognized by the Jamaica
Reggae Industry Association (JARIA) at its Honour Awards Ceremony at the
Edna Manley College in Kingston.
The event brought the curtains down on JARIA’s Reggae Month celebrations.
Some perennial names including Ken Boothe, Judy Mowatt and The Paragons
received plaques, but there was also recognition for respected veterans
like bass player Val Douglas, producer Clive Hunt and broadcaster Winston Williams.
Boothe brought proceedings to a close with a typically rousing performance
that included his hit songs Everything I Own and Freedom Street. He
received his award from singer Tarrus Riley with whom he did an impromptu
version of Say You.
Also receiving awards were sound system operators Winston Blake of
Merritone and Noel Harper of Kilamanjaro; engineers Michael Reilly and
Dennis Thompson; former Third World member Michael ?Ibo? Cooper for
mentorship at the Edna Manley College; guitarist Dwight Pinkney; producers
Wycliffe “Steely” Johnson and Cleveland “Clevie” Browne, and the Fabulous
Five band which has been together 40 years.
The 2011 cast included some of the pioneers of Jamaican popular music.
That August category included four greats of the rock steady era: Boothe,
The Paragons, Delroy Wilson and Phyllis Dillon.
Wilson and Dillon, who recorded mainly for rival producers Clement
“Coxson” Dodd and Arthur “Duke” Reid respectively, were honoured
posthumously.
Bass player Lloyd Parks, founder of the We The People Band and former
member of the legendary Revolutionaries band at Channel One, received the
Lifetime Achievement Award.
The evening featured strong performances from The Tamlins, Mary Isaacs,
Prilly Hamilton and Pam Hall. The Tamlins paid homage to Hunt with a
version of their hit song Baltimore on which he played horns, and also did
a medley of Paragons hits.
Isaacs did stylish renditions of Breakfast in Bed (on which Douglas
played), and the Dillon hits, Don’t Stay Away and Perfidia. Hamilton
enthusiastically delivered Wilson’s Dancing Mood and Smooth Operator,
while Hall put a classy jazz spin on Mowatt’s Black Woman.
Browne accepted the Producers Award on behalf of his longtime friend and
keyboardist Wycliffe “Steely” Johnson who died in 2009 at age 47. They
were responsible for most of the hit songs during dancehall’s golden age
of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Howard Campbell