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Gordon In The Garden Vol. 1 by Vin Gordon

Gordon In The Garden Vol. 1 by Vin Gordon

Gordon In The Garden Vol. 1 by Vin Gordon

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Angus Taylor spends some quality time with the new album by trombonist and possibly the busiest man in reggae, Vin Gordon


Ex Sound Dimension Vin Gordon’s trombone has graced the work of just about every major reggae artist from big names like the Wailers and Culture to cult heroes such as Sylford Walker and Yabby You. Rest assured - if you own ten or more reggae albums, you’ve probably heard the man play.

Now he has unleashed the first in what looks like a series of new instrumental long players, linking up with two more of his prolific Alpha Boys school alumni; the Zap Pow members David Madden, trumpet, (who played on the Heptones Party Time and the Abyssinians Forward for example) and saxophonist Glen Da Costa (who was part of Tommy Cowan’s Talent Crew and appeared on the Twinkle Brothers seminal Countrymen LP). The result is a smooth, blissful skank through reggae and dub’s past and present that is equal parts virtuosity and dubby escapism.

The status of the trombone in Jamaican music rests partly on how difficult it is to master as a solo instrument, and also on the legendary eminence of Don Drummond (Vin himself recorded as Don D Junior at one point in his career). Here Gordon manages to sound relaxed and at ease while simultaneously playing for all he’s worth. Sometimes he blends in harmony with Madden until headphones are required to separate them, at others breaking free for a cool yet dextrous detour centre stage. Here and there De Costa spirals, seemingly out of control, into elliptical euphoric flurries that make the wildlife in this garden sound very wild indeed.

There are plenty vintage moments to be found. A jazz-funk take on Drummond’s Addis Ababa (Addis A Rasta), a pared-down version of Aswad’s Warrior Charge (Stepping In) and happy go lucky tribute to his birthplace Jones Town Special, (not the Skatalites tune of the same name) all have plenty to offer the ear.

At times, like much of the output from the pre-reggae era’s surviving major players, this borders on easy listening, a far cry from the rough edged stomps of old, and Gordon’s own production, shrouding the music in reverb and delay, occasionally lessens impact of the band’s punchy playing. Nonetheless, Gordon In De Garden Volume 1 is proof that at age 58, Vin Gordon’s still got it. A pleasant slice of mature jazzy dub, perfect for a rainy summer’s day.

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