JAMAICA JAZZ FROM FEDERAL RECORDS (CARIB ROOTS, JAZZ, MENTO, LATIN, MERENGUE & RHUMBA: 1960-1968)
Dub Store Records
The digital platform might have killed the music distribution business, but it has also helped niche genres and lost gems find a new audience. Dub Store Records, a Japanese label with a narrowly obsessive otaku focus on reggae and ska, has been reissuing oddball gems which stray occasionally into jazz territory.
This latest compilation covers a lot of ground as the title indicates. Federal Records was the first native label in Jamaica, and the early purveyors of ska and reggae got their start here.
Readers may remember guitarist Ernest Ranglin, whose work featured on another Dub Store release reviewed in this column. He headlines the Federal Band which opens the album with a charming rhumba arrangement of Like Falling In Love. The dominant rhythms here are the rhumba and cha cha, reflecting perhaps the dominant market - America - for such music at that point in time. The arrangements and playing, despite the Latin American beats, sound a tad restrained, evidently aimed at a sedate dinner-and-dance crowd.
Some of the tracks manage to break out of the mould with some swinging takes. Eric Grant Orchestra's perky S'Wonderful, pianist George Moxey's joyful C'est Magnifique and Bertie King's strutting Mango Walk are full of verve.
The marvellous melange of musical styles are proof that culture clashes are great for musical mashups.