Joe Ferry

Big Ska

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Bassist and producer Joe Ferry has worked in the studio with the likes of David Sanborn, Art Blakey, Ron Wood, David Bowie and Mel Tormé, but his love of vintage ska is what drives much of his current work behind the scenes at the Shanachie label. On this mostly instrumental album he leads a group of friends and fellow scenesters through a lovely program of jazzy old-school ska, rocksteady and early reggae tunes, including a couple of fine original compositions, a slightly breezy arrangement of the Abyssinians' roots classic "Satta Massa Gana," a great rendition of the Jaco Pastorius standard "Portrait of Tracy," and a respectful tribute to the late Tommy McCook in the form of McCook's deathless composition "Swing Easy." There are times (such as in their rendition of McCook's "Ska Boss") when Ferry and

the band cruise uncomfortably close to a smooth jazz sound, but even when things get just a little bit soft in the middle, it's still very enjoyable listening. Remember: the original ska sound was nothing like punk -- it was the sound of trained professionals loosening up their jazz groove for the dancefloor, and that's just what Ferry and crew do as well. Recommended.

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