Ernest Ranglin

Gotcha!

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Ernest Ranglin, a veteran of the Jamaican recording scene and a one-time member of the house band at Ronnie Scott's London jazz club, is a versatile, distinctive guitarist who navigates easily among Jamaican, jazz, and pop styles. Gotcha!'s custom blend of island beats and melodious jazz-funk is what happens when the guitarist teams up with a slate of fusion, hard bop, and post-bop players. Ranglin, 68 at the time of this 2000 date, draws on a range of styles and techniques, from rhythmic reggae riffing to slippery, skittering single-note lines to Wes Montgomery-style octaves and block chords. He can play like a reggae-fied version of rock guitar instrumentalists Steve Cropper and Freddie King or in a more progressive vein that hints at the work of Sonny Sharrock and Sonny Greenwich. Ranglin's fellow performers here include hard bop saxophonist Antonio Hart, who performs with a melodic, in-the-pocket approach that suggests a more limber version of UB40's Brian Travers. Pianist Warren Bernhardt brings an expansive, post bop harmonic sophistication to the mix, while Gary Mayone counters with some soul-soothing organ. Fusion veterans Anthony Jackson on bass, Steve Jordan on drums, and percussionist Errol "Crusher" Bennett provide the fluid, insistent reggae and ska pulse that underpins these tracks. The CD's one misstep is its version of "Pass the Dutchie" (a hit for the Mighty Diamonds and later Musical Youth), as the tune's puerile refrain is at odds with the rest of this set's refined, slinky groovesmithing. Jordan's vocals on the track also obscure some good work by Ranglin.

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