CMJ - 3/22/04, p.17
"Alexander's jazzy comps and leads often jump, while Ranglin's clean tone and sinuous playing effortlessly compliment as they work through the music together in a sextet setting."
JazzTimes - p.108
"ROCKSTEADY is emblematic of the pioneer spirit that propelled Jamaican recordings into the international spotlight three decades ago."
Personnel: Monty Alexander (piano, melodica); Toots Hibbert (vocals); Ernest Ranglin, Junior Jazz (guitar); Gary Mayone (keyboards); Hassan Shakur (acoustic bass); Quentin Baxter (drums); Courtney Panton (hand drums).
Recorded at Avatar Studio C, New York, New York on June 26-29, 2003.
Personnel: Monty Alexander (piano, melodica); Ernest Ranglin (guitar); Toots Hibbert (vocals); Junior Jazz (guitar); Gary Mayone (keyboards); Hassan Shakur (acoustic bass); Quentin Baxter (drums); Courtney Panton (hand drums).
Recorded at Avatar Studio C, New York, New York on June 26-29, 2003. Includes liner notes by Wayne Jobson.
Personnel: Monty Alexander (melodica, piano); Toots Hibbert (vocals); Ernest Ranglin (guitar); Gary Mayone (keyboards); Hassan Shakur (acoustic bass); Quentin Baxter (drums).
Liner Note Author: Wayne Jobson.
Recording information: Avatar Studio C, New York, NY (06/26/2003-06/29/2003).
Editor: Robert Friedrich.
Photographer: Peter Rickards.
Prior to becoming an ace mainstream jazz pianist in the U.S., native Jamaican Monty Alexander played on countless sessions at Studio One in Kingston -- well before reggae, rocksteady, and even ska crossed the seas. Since 1998, secure in his jazz credentials, he has been reminding listeners of those roots, cranking out album after album and managing to unite jazz and reggae in a sometimes irresistible fusion. This time, Alexander reaches further back to pre-reggae Jamaican pop from the late '60s/early '70s, bringing along a guitar-slinging friend from the old days, Ernest Ranglin. On previous Jamaican-accented albums, Alexander sometimes sounded as if he was making an effort to hold back his prodigious technique in order to keep things simple. But here he sounds more comfortable paring down his playing to the basics while still throwing in an occasional sly quote or monster lick, now going more and more to his evocative melodica playing. Ranglin brings a brittle, staccato touch to everything he touches, and the rhythm section careens gently along, with only rare hints of a ska feel and without the overpowering dub-flavored bass of previous Alexander Jamaican outings like "Meets Sly and Robbie" and parts of "Goin' Yard." Desmond Dekker's "Israelites," one of the first genuine Jamaican hits in the U.S., moves and grooves much like the original while allowing for some jazz licks. Less well-known in America, perhaps, are some other choices like Ken Boothe's "Freedom Street" and the Congos' "Row Fisherman." Moving up a bit on the time scale, Alexander and Ranglin include the Burning Spear signature tune "Marcus Garvey" and with heads bowed, they close the album with a dignified duo rendition of the Hon. Robert Nesta Marley's "Redemption Song." The six-channel surround mix on this hybrid SACD is simple and strikingly consistent, with Quentin Baxter's drums and Junior Jazz's scratching rhythm guitar coming from the rear channels, and Alexander, Ranglin, and occasional hand percussion coming from the front. ~ Richard S. Ginell