Review Summary: Jazz Reggae at it's best with the will to send a message!Groundation
is probably today's most talented reggae band. Formed in 1998, the band was named after Grounation Day, the day that Hailie Selassie visited Jamaica in 1966. They are mostly known for their live performance, blending Jazz and Reggae with Dub influences. We Free Again was released in 2004 and is considered to be their breakthrough album.
is all about roots reggae, and the opener “Praising” shows exactly that. Slow rhythms with keyboards and backing vocals. What really gives the dynamic is Harrison Stafford's voice coupled with the instrumentals. One without the other wouldn't work. Stafford's vocals are pretty specific to him, none sings like him and whenever you hear him either on his side projects or with Groundation, you know it's him. His vocals are more than just voice, he uses them like a rhythm instrument on songs such as “ Dem Rise”. This is not the only outstanding performance on this album, the instruments are played perfectly. With this album you are gifted with lots of great solos such as keyboards, trumpet and trombone. As if the jam wasn't enough, Apple Gabriel from Israel Vibration is omnipresent on this album either as a backing vocalist or as an actual singer on “Suffer The Right”.
The whole album is a mix between straight up roots reggae and a reggae-jazz jam. One very interesting song is the four piece Cultural Wars, that gives us a progression in rhythm and sound, which is pretty innovative in reggae. Actually if you want to know what Groundation
is all about, the Cultural Wars songs are very representative of their sound: bass driven roots reggae-jazz. On “Music Is The Most High”, it's a huge jam that completely changes pace and becomes a slow roots reggae song when Stafford says “They ask me why I play music. Music is the most high
”. Music is more than just music to them, it is their religion.
One could compare Groundation
to the Wailers
and Stafford to Bob Marley. Although this comparison could be hard to accept for the long time reggae fans, this band is definitely the most musically talented reggae band of today and Stafford has a unique voice, like Marley had.