Tuesday, December 20, 2011
The Wrigglers: Sing Calypso at the Arawak, 1958
On this disc, the Wrigglers offer up calypso standards and songs I hadn't heard before. It was released as a souvenir/ advertisement for the Arawak hotel in Jamaica, so the liner notes are dedicated to talking up the resort and give almost no information about the band other than the name of the singer, Denzil Laing. Some of these songs appear on the Jamaica Mento 1951-1958 compilation where they are credited to the Wrigglers featuring Ernest Ranglin, and Ranglin's guitar graces all the songs on this album.
Many Jamaican musicians followed changing musical trends as the nation's music industry exploded beginning in the fifties, moving from mento to ska or ska to reggae, but Ranglin contributed more significantly to a greater number of these genres than almost any musician I can name. On this recording, he sounds at home in a mento setting, and he had already begun shaping the ska sound by the late fifties. He is also featured on a lot of jazz recordings, notably many of Monty Alexander's classic albums including "Rass!" He also earned recognition from the jazz world in his own right and toured to England with a trio as early as the mid sixties, recording at least one live album there. According to wikipedia, he also worked as an arranger, studio musician, and live guitarist for reggae greats like Lee Perry, Jimmy Cliff, and the Melodians. In short, Ranglin has had one of the most versatile careers that a musician could hope to have, and he stands out as a national musical treasure in a country where revolutionary musicians abound. Ranglin's playing on the Arawak makes the depth of his musical vision apparent, even at that early stage of his formidable career. This album does not even begin to tell the story of Ranglin's musical diversity nor the immensity of his contributions to Jamaican music and music in general, but as is the case with so many of his recordings, his playing here is both fun and thoughtful.
Saxophone by Easy Jams