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Jazz Jamaica's debut album, Skaravan was released by Quattro Records, Japan in April 1994, followed three months later by its release in the UK on Jazz Jamaica's label, Skazz Records (now defunct). In March 1996, the album was licensed to RykoDisc/Hannibal and had its worldwide release on 1 July 1996. Soon after, in August 1996, the album reached No 1 in the Jazz FM radio charts in the UK. The album includes ska versions of Duke Ellington's classic Caravan (hence Skaravan), Charlie Parker's Barbados, alongside Jamaican mento melodies such as The Peanut Vendor and Don Drummond's Don Cosmic. The sound is truly authentic in that it captures the spirit of Jamaican music whilst incorporating distinctive, high quality jazz.

Skaravan 500

Cover of the Hannibal/Rykodisc release from 1996; Design by Steven Jurgensmayer

ReleasesEdit

Skaravan Label 500

Label of the HNCD 1397 release

Skaravan Back 500

Backcover of the HNCD 1397 release

Skaravan 1 500

Inner sleeve of the HNCD 1397 release

Skaravan JapM

Cover of original Japan release on Quattro

1994:

  • CD: Quattro Records /Japan; with a different track listing
  • CD: Skazz Records /UK

1996:

  • CD: RootJazz /Hannibal HNCD 1397

TracksEdit

RootJazz/Hannibal CDEdit

  1. "Barbados" (Parker) (4:04)
  2. "Don Cosmic" (Dodd, Drummond) (3:54)
  3. "Skaravan" (Caravan) (Ellington, Tizol, Mills) (4:31)
  4. "Rambin'" (Rodriguez) (4:05)
  5. "Nubia" (Morrison) (4:25)
  6. "Bridge View" (McCook, Moore, Sterling, Alfonso, Knibb, Brivett, Haynes, Mittoo, Drummond) (3:55)
  7. "You´re So Delightful" (Arr. by Morrison)
  8. "The Peanut Vendor" (Wolfe, Simons, Sunshine) (4:26)
  9. "Green Island" (McCook, Moore, Sterling, Alfonso, Knibb, Brivett, Haynes, Mittoo, Drummond) (3:02)
  10. "Africa" (Rodriguez) (5:21)

Quattro CDEdit

  1. Barbados
  2. Don Cosmic
  3. Skaravan
  4. Ramblin
  5. Nubia
  6. Bridge View
  7. You're So Delightful
  8. Peanut Vendor
  9. Green Island
  10. Africa
  11. Dr.Kildare
  12. Rasta
  13. Confucious


CreditsEdit

  • Gary Crosby (doublebass, bandleader)
  • Clifton "Bigga" Morrison (keyb, melodica)
  • Rico Rodriguez (trombone)
  • Michael "Bammie" Rose (as, flute)
  • Kendrik Rowe (dr)
  • Eddie "TanTan" Thornton (trumpet)
  • Tony Uter (perc)
  • Alan Weekes (g)
  • Cedric Brooks (sax on "Bridge View")

Executive Producer: Jazz Jamaica Limited Produced and mixed by Clifton Morrison Recorded at Redfort Studios, London Engineered by John Ravenhall

Sleeve Design: Steven Jurgensmeyer

Liner Notesand photography: Janine Irons

Rykodisc promotional textEdit

It's 1966 and a hot summer evening in Kingston, Jamaica, and you and your friends are looking for a little entertainment. A pal tells you there's a big sound system party in some abandoned field, so you decide to go. At the party, you dance the night away as the d.j. spins the latest records from Prince Buster, the Skatalites, Don Drummond, and the Wailers (featuring some kid named Robert Marley). The sounds of traditional Carribbean beats mixed with smooth jazz and blues from New Orleans, the music called ska, fill the air. It's 1991, and Jazz Warrior double bassist Gary Crosby wants to recapture the spirit of the early days of ska, to create the definitive mix of ska, mento, jazz, and reggae. He gathers a group of some of the best ska, jazz, and reggae musicians, musicians who've played with artists ranging from Bob Marley to Paul Simon, musicians equally at home playing jazz and ska standards as well as Jamaican folksongs. The resulting group is Jazz Jamaica.

Forming the backbone of the band, the horn section includes a number of ska and reggae greats, most notably Rico Rodriguez, arguably one of the finest trombonists the Caribbean has ever produced. Rico's career spans half a century, beginning with work as one of the original Studio One musicians who would become The Skatalites, continuing with work in England during the early 1980's as the trombonist for 2Tone acts Madness and The Specials, and maintaining a steady presence in the scene by working with Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, the BBC Radio Orchestra, and the Jools Holland Big Band, among others. On trumpet, Jazz Jamaica features Eddie "Tan Tan" Thornton, who, like Rico, graduated from Kingston's celebrated Alpha School for Boys. Eddie's career of more than forty years includes work with a very diverse range of artists, from Rod Stewart to Aswad, from to the Rolling Stones to Ernest Ranglin , from the Beatles to Georgie Fame. Duties on alto saxophone and flute fall to Michael "Bammie" Rose, who first rose to international prominence in the 1970s with the Afro-Rock band Cymande. Throughout his career, he has worked with a myriad of African artists such as Hugh Maskela, Mriam Makeba, and Jabula, as well as with Paul Simon, Soul II Soul, and Alton Ellis.

Providing keyboard and melodica is Clifton "Bigga" Morrison, a man who is, as the nickname suggests, as big in stature as he is in the reggae scene, having played with Gregory Isaacs, Jackie Mitoo, Sugar Minott, Maxi Priest, King Sounds, the Israelites, and Dennis Brown, among a host of others. On guitar is Alan Weekes, one of the leading guitraists in the UK and one of Crosby's fellow Jazz Warriors. Alan has played with Jackie Mitoo, Caroll Thompson, Janet Kay, and a myriad of other jazz and reggae artists. Rounding out the ensemble are Kendrick Rowe on drums and Tony Uter on percussion. Kenrick, a onetime member of Sugar Minott's band, has worked with several reggae artists, including the Mighty Diamonds, Janet Kay, and Dennis Brown, in addition to making a name for himself in the jazz scene by playing with Courtney Pine, Jean Toussaint, Spirit Level, Steve Williamson, and Art Farmer. Tony, one of the pioneering members of the Jamaican music scene since the 1950's, has performed with Toots and the Maytals, Prince Buster and the All Stars, I Jah Man, the Alan Haven Jazz Trio, the Robin Jones King Salsa Band, and Jazz Turbo.

It's 1996, and an evening in July, wherever you are. Hannibal has released Skaravan, the debut album from Jazz Jamaica. You listen to tracks like "Bridge View," "Don Cosmic," and "You're So Delightful" and dream of a dance on a sweltering night, of a moonlight swim in the Carribean, of an evening's meal of rice and beans, jerk pork, rum and ginger beer. Maybe you're hearing the music for the first time and discovering the rich island sounds of "Africa" and "Ramblin'". Or perhaps you're reminded of the days of dancehalls and sound systems as you hear classics like "Green Island" and "Skaravan". Whatever the situation, let the steady rythms of Skaravan take you away to Jamaica, to a stroll on a beach or a party on someone's back porch...to the sounds of summer.

Source: RYKODISC wbsite, 1996

ReviewsEdit

  • "Gary Crosby ... has succeeded in harnessing jazz and Caribbean musics in a way that few British groups (if any) have done" Jazz on CD
  • "SKARAVAN ... Jazz Jamaica's debut CD [is] infused with enough joy and life to wake the dead [and] will feature in several critics' lists of Record Of The Year." Jazz Magazine
  • "Many have tried it but very few have managed to achieve that 'original' sound and play quality jazz on top" The Jamaican Weekly Gleaner
  • "... the most satisfying fusion of jazz/ska/reggae yet" Dub Catcher
  • Summer's reaching its peak here on the third floor at world-roots central in New Haven, and since the air conditioner is browned out, I needed something cool to get through the day. JazzJamaica's Skaravan is truly cool; a little ska, a little mento, a little reggae, and a whole lot of groovin' jazz. The root of the matter are some smooth revisions of jazz classics like the title track (Ellington's "Caravan" goes Caribbean), Parker's "Barbados," and one of the jolliest, breezy versions of "Peanut Vendor" to be cut in years. There are also some fine Jamaican classics as well, given a sultry jazz treatment. Founding Skatalite trombonist Rico Rodriquez offers a prime example of how cool it can be, in a slow building, neo-classical-psychedelic jazz pop beauty, "Africa." There IS a cure for the summertime blues, and this crew has a gallon of the serum. - CF (Source: RootsWorld, 1997)
  • "...The originals cook beautifully, and their version of Charlie Parker's "Barbados" fairly sizzles with enthusiasm and skill. The rhythm section is as supple as willow, and the soloists are as inventive and melodic as you could hope. The ideal mix of fire and skill." - Chris Nickson (from: Amazon.com)

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