Sunday, March 30, 2014

CD Review: Ernest Ranglin & Avila's 'Bless Up'

Ernest Ranglin & Avila
Bless Up
Avila Street Records

Jamaican-born guitarist and composer, Ernest Ranglin, has been wowing crowds and countries for decades with his signature style of ska, jazz, mento, reggae, and blues music. The instrumental tunes on Bless Up are very classy and rich with jazzy leanings, ska infusions, and island charisma. The rootsy jazz guitar stylings on "Bless Up" cement Ernest's reputation for indelible recordings and compositions. The rippling guitar and piano melody are backed by a beautiful, laid-back percussion section. The jazzy, reggae-tinged "Joan's Pen" is a heady mixture of classic vs. contemporary that finds an inner balance for everything to work just right. The swaying melody of "Follow On" showcases more diverse talent from Ernest's finger-tips. The sassy piano and horn section adds some pizzazz to the jazzy rhythm and guitar arrangements. There are sixteen tracks in all that span the gamut from jazz, lounge, tropical, roots, reggae, ska, and blues. Bless Up is a step up from other recordings that may be similar, but you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone comparable to the great Ernest Ranglin. He's 81 and still cranking out the tunes. ~ Matthew Forss

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