Ernest Ranglin takes a giant leap forward on Gotcha! due in stores on June 26, 2001. Building on the jazz-tinged reggae sound of his classic 1996 Below the Bassline album, the versatile Jamaican guitarist combines his experience with the excitement of new companions and fresh compositions. Ranglin's lyrical playing is a testament to his skill as an innovator, and on his second Telarc recording he smoothly integrates traditional reggae and jazz with breathtaking precision.
A subtle virtuoso, Ranglin's playing remains tasteful and economical, yet eminently sophisticated. Gotcha! features nine tracks of free flowing grooves, with six new originals—equally suitable for listening or dancing. Fresh rhythms abound and highlights include the buoyant "Earthquake," the catchy "Pass the Dutchie" (a.k.a. "Pass the Kouchie") the up-tempo "Blackout," and the wistful "Rock It with Me" (a tune associated with the Melodians).
With a fluent command of traditional and contemporary styles, Ranglin's amazingly tight band includes saxophonist Antonio Hart, percussionist Errol "Crusher" Bennett, bassist Anthony Jackson, pianist Warren Bernhardt, keyboardist Gary Mayone (who played with Ranglin on Below the Bassline) and drummer Steve Jordan.
Such diversity is hardly surprising for a man who was one of the architects of ska. Ranglin cut his musical teeth touring the Caribbean islands with various Jamaican dance bands, including working back in the 1950s with such celebrated jazz players as saxophonist Bertie King. He directed sessions in Jamaica with Prince Buster, the Melodians and Bob Marley, and had a long association with singers Johnny Nash and Jimmy Cliff. Like his countryman (and current labelmate) Monty Alexander, Ranglin has always kept a close ear on developments in the West Indies, even during those periods in the late '70s when he was based mainly in the United States, and he has kept alive his interest in both jazz and Jamaican traditional musics.
Ranglin's Telarc debut, Modern Answers to Old Problems (CD-83526), was an exotic mix of jazz sophistication and Afro-pop syncopation. Support was provided by ex-Fela Kuti drummer, Tony Allen, and a crew of London-based musicians with Nigerian connections.