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Ernest Ranglin and The Sidewalk Doctors at London's Jazz Cafe

Ernest Ranglin and The Sidewalk Doctors at London's Jazz Cafe

Ernest Ranglin and The Sidewalk Doctors at London's Jazz Cafe

By on - Photos by Angus Taylor - 1 comment

After a five year absence, the maestro returns...


Having been instrumental in the birth of both ska and reggae, guitarist Ernest Ranglin, O.D., is a true giant of music. No wonder then, that London’s Jazz Café was just as crammed as it was when he last passed through five years before, with local reggae legends Mafia & Fluxy in tow.

This time the band was a simple drums, bass and baby grand piano configuration. Their jazzier sound was perfect for a ninety minute set almost exclusively drawn from his 1996 Island crossover album 'Below The Bassline' – which brought his jazz, ska and reggae adventures together as one.

Ernest Ranglin in London

For the first three tunes – Ball Of Fire, Congo Man Chant and a hobbling cantankerous Satta Amassagana – he said nothing at all: occasionally ambling up and down the stage to go eyeball to eyeball with the bassist, letting his fingers do the talking. Then he began to address the audience, jovially threatening to sing a song, prior to announcing King Tubby Meets The Rockers (the work of “a king”) and the stratospheric Nana’s Chalk Pipe (inspired by “old Jamaican ladies”).

At 79 himself, Ranglin still navigates the fretboard with remarkable verve and vigour, playing with a surprisingly dirty tone. His theme-tune, Surfin', started with just guitar, adding bass then drums then piano, slowly creeping into both hips and minds. For the encore, after being demanded as raucously as a laid back Jazz Café could manage, he returned for Lively Up Yourself and Below The Bassline, before, clutching his sheet music and instrument, he ascended the stairs for good.

Support came from London’s own Sidewalk Doctors, who are as likeable as their 60s enthused music. They played a selection from their new six track EP 'Music Is Medicine', although it was their cover of the Beatles All My Loving (which recalled those great rocksteady and reggae covers contemporaneous with the Fab Four rather than the crooning standards that followed their demise) that really loosened up the crowd.

London plays host to another Jamaican guitar hero, in the Wailers Julian “Junior” Marvin, who follows Ernest to the capital with a show at Open The Gate on December 2nd.

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Read comments (1)

Posted by MrQuick on 11.30.2011
He'll be back in London (and the rest of Europe) this Summer with Sly & Robbie and Monty Alexander following their triumph in Tokyo in November.

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