Don Carlos

Live in San Francisco

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Recorded live at San Francisco's Maritime Hall, for the birthday bash commemorating Bob Marley, Don Carlos is in a festive mood and is determined to spread that irie feeling to the audience. Offering up a crowd pleasing set of 13 numbers drawn from his own vast canon, as well as others', made this was a night to remember. Special mention must be made of the Freedom Fighters, who accompanied the singer with obvious delight. The Freedom Fighters know how to mix it, deftly delivering rough and tumble rhythms, deep roots, light dancehall styles, bouncy reggae, and rich melody-driven backings across the nearly hour-long set. Intriguingly, the set list itself seems to run backward, cooling down as the night progresses. Kicking off with the groove-heavy "Cool Johnny Cool," the band soon takes it up a notch into the dancehall delights of "Lazer Beam" before they drop out entirely for an a cappella version of "Young Girl." A burst into a clutch of breezy numbers follows, including an incredibly chirpy version of the Abyssinians' classic "Satta Massa Gana," while the Sensations' gorgeous "Everyday's a Holiday" is delivered up in insistent roots reggae. The Freedom Fighters conjure up all the noise and chaos of urban life in the intro of "Living in the City," one of the set's highlights, fueled by drummer Wadi Gad and bassist Amlak Tafari's thumping rhythm and seared by guitarist Fazel Prendergast's fiery guitar licks. "Passing Glance" and "Excitement," which close the set, are showcases for trumpeter Gavin Distassi and saxophonist Joshi Marshall, who shine throughout the entire album and send both these effervescent numbers soaring, abetted by pianist David Lodge's incandescent riffs, which provide the perfect backdrop for Carlos' sweetest vocals. A stellar band, a fabulous set, and the former Black Uhuru having a whale of a time ensure that everyone within listening distance will share in the experience.

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