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Kevin Batchelor's Grand Concourse

Kevin Batchelor's Grand Concourse

Kevin Batchelor's Grand Concourse

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New York City in Ska.

Sampler

It is usually the singers who get most of the music lovers‘ attention, not the musicians - although they are just as important for the overall product. A lot of the instrumentalists who back our favorite artists have musical skills that go way beyond of what they can show in their position, but only rarely do they decide to step into the limelight.

One of those gifted musicians who did just that is Kevin Batchelor. Born in St. Louis, MO in 1960, he was inspired to learn to play the trumpet by Miles Davis‘ Milestone. In his twenties, Batchelor was a scholar at the renowned Berklee College of Music (of which Duke Ellington is an honorary doctor). He went on to prove his exceptional musicianship working with a rich array of orchestras, producers, singers and bands - among them The Full Monty Orchestra on Broadway, Rihanna, Jimmy Cliff, Shaggy, Sugar Minott, Sidney Mills, and Noel Alphonso, to name just a few. With Steel Pulse and The Skatalites, he toured the world.

Kevin Batchelor - Grand ConcourseBacked by the latter, he debuted his solo performance career in March 2008 in Russia. Batchelor‘s first solo album 'Batchelor Party' had been released two years earlier on Living Room Records. His second solo effort, 'Kevin Batchelor‘s Grand Concourse', had been released in May 2011 in the US on Mossburg Music. Thanks to the new born German ska and rocksteady label Rocking Records, it is now also available in Europe (distributed by Broken Silence).

'Grand Concourse' shows once more not only Kevin Batchelor‘s outstanding skills on the trumpet, but proves that he is equally at home in lead vocals. This album breathes the experiences of the Bronx urbanite - musically, but even more lyricswise -, evoking moods oscillating between mellow and melancholic. The sound is firmly based in classic Jamaican ska, with a good shot of rocksteady. Here and there, jazz and blues influences add extra flavor.

Queens-born Jonny Meyers (The Stingers ATX) wrote the songs. Only the two bonus tracks, Where Are You Going and There Was A Time, have been written by Kevin Batchelor himself. The album is indeed a grand concourse of established New York ska musicians, including Brooklynites Eddie Ocampo on drums (who “replaced” Lloyd Knibb for The Skatalites since he passed away), Dan Jesselsohn on bass (The Toasters, New York Ska Jazz Ensemble) and Tony Orbach on saxophone (Urban Blight). Keyboard player Gideon Blumenthal hails from the Bronx.

'Grand Concourse' is a worldly-wise declaration of love to music in general and to ska/early reggae in particular. Lovers of rootsy ska find a lot to discover here, no matter if they are urbanites or rural dwellers.

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