Saxophonist Roland Alphonso was one of the major figures of early ska and reggae on several fronts: his recordings as a soloist and bandleader, his work as a member of the Skatalites, his prolific log of session appearances on 1960s Jamaican recordings, and his role as arranger for Studio One. (The Skatalites backed everyone from Jimmy Cliff, Ken Boothe and Toots and the Maytals, to Lee Perry, Marcia Griffiths and Bob Marley and the Wailers.) Although his roots were in the jazz he played as a teenager and young man, he adapted to the emerging Jamaican popular music so well that he became one of its defining innovators. Certainly he was one of reggae's most accomplished instrumentalists — Alphonso's tone was in a league with American jazzmen and R&B players. His versatility allowed for a wide scope of recorded material, from up-tempo ska novelties and ballads that showed his skill at jazz improvisation to numbers with an R&B/soul base. Alphonso died in 1998 when a blood vessel burst in his neck just after he had completed a solo while playing live with the reformed Skatalites.
The Rocksteady 7 is an influential American ska and jazz band from NYC. Since the early '90s the group has consisted of tenor saxophonist and band leader David Hillyard (of Slackers fame) as well as percussionist Larry McDonald (Afro Jamaicans, Bob Marley, Taj Mahal, Gil-Scott Heron). In live performances, they are supported by a rotating cast of musicians, including drummer Eddie Ocampo and Dave Wake on keys among others. Given reggae's globally reaching influence, the Rocksteady 7 holds true to the genre's roots and the self-described "Jamaican Jazz" sound combines ska, rocksteady and reggae with extended jazz improvisation, intricate melodies, and complex harmonies. The group incorporates many diverse elements of world music with rocksteady rhythms, including ska, jazz, calypso, as well as early African and American jazz influences.
100dBs is a producer and DJ living in Brooklyn whose signature style blends performance and selection: astral echo pedal on a wild crate-digger's chase through the genealogy of a tune. He came up listening to Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder, thanks to the bootleg cassettes his mother managed to bring with her from Cold War Romania. An adolescent encounter with a Lee Perry record flipped his whole world and led to formative dub experiments on an old four-track. He got his start spinning hip hop nights on the Lower East Side and has toured the world since. He's rocked parties for burners, breakers, Berlin artists and Brooklyn's reggae revivalists.
Friday, January 27th at Hank's Saloon
46 Third Avenue (at Atlantic), Brooklyn, U.S.A.
Doors at 8PM. $8 cover. 21+ with ID.