This weekend are the last couple of days left of St. Lucia Jazz Festival. On Sunday, Monty Alexander’s Harlem Kingston Express will be performing. Andy Bassford, the guitarist in Island Head, also plays with Monty and will be there. If you have not heard the new “Harlem Kingston Express Volume 2” album, check it out. It’s a great blend of traditional jazz and instrumental reggae.
The reggae jamband Island Head, is getting a lot attention for their debut album “Punky Reggae Party”. Bob Marley songs are re-worked into instrumentals that are destined to make these songs classics, again.
Track 1: “I Shot The Sheriff” has a groove that crosses dancehall and rock with strong rock guitars and jazzy saxophone. Sax player Tim Cappello, of Tina Turner fame, plays his butt off (plain and simple). He has a fat tenor sound with tons of expression and excitement!
Track 2: “So Much Trouble In The World” takes the bass line from the original and pushes it further with a backbeat on the drums. Bass player extraordinaire, Neil Jason pays tribute to the original bass player on the Survival album, Val Douglas. Val, of the famous Skatalites, was scheduled to play on the album. Due to his touring schedule with the Skatalites he could not make any of the band’s sessions. When the track gets to Andy Bassford’s guitar solo the song is lifted to new heights. Andy is well-known for playing with Toots & The Maytals for 23 years.
Track 3: The single, “Reggae Island” is a pop/top 40 sounding instrumental that just makes the listener feel good. This is the only one not penned by Marley.
track 4: “Wake Up and Live”, also from Marley’s Survival album appears on the Island Head record. This is where the band’s funk influence comes out. Trumpet player Don Harris used to tour with Tower of Power and brought out some TOP in his arrangements.
Track 5: “Get Up Stand Up” sounds like Miles Davis got together with Bob Marley. Harris’ muted trumpet is sultry, sexy and relaxing. Miles would be proud because his influence is very apparent.
Track 6: The title track combines Jamaican Rocksteady with synth-dance music. The synthesizer sounds played by one of the most famous synth players in the world, David Frank of The System.
Track 7: “Burnin’ and Lootin'” is the final track which is more traditional roots reggae. The groove is deadly and “dirty funky”! Andy Bassford does some finger-picking melodies in the second verse that are complex and interesting. The track ends with Andy and Tim weaving in and out of each other’s licks.
Mickey “Mao” Chung, famous for his tenure with Peter Tosh of the Wailers plays incredible melodies throughout the entire album. Mikey also played with Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards when Keith used to live in Jamaica. Keith also mentions Mikey in his biography, “Life”. Producer Billy Messinetti says; Mikey added a Jamaican authenticity to the album. The combination of the guitar playing of Andy Bassford and Mikey ‘Mao’ Chung is one of the things that makes this album so interesting to listen to. When Pat McKay, program director for SiriusXM’s reggae station The Joint, heard about this collaboration she said; I know both Andy and Mikey, they are geniuses!
You can find this very interesting musical hybrid here: Island Head on iTunes
Twitter page @Islandheadband is getting followers from all over the world.