Professor – Madness 2011 Groundation Music/SoulBeats Records
After six Groundation highly acclaimed albums, two Dub versions adventures, and one groundbreaking experimental side-project release – Rockamovya – the Roots Reggae-Jazz fusion group front man Harrison Stafford, presents is first ever solo album, MADNESS.
Madness, out since April/May in Groundation Music (US) and SoulBeats Records (Europe), is also a long awaited studio connection with top veteran Jamaican musicians, recorded, mixed and mastered at renowned Harry J Studio in Kingston, the perfect combination to bring one of the best, produced in Jamaica, Roots Reggae albums in the latest years!
The Professor, familiarized with lecturing Reggae Music history at university in California, chooses this time, to give his insights and more inner teachings in the subject of the West-Bank, Israeli/Palestinian conflict; an in-ground understanding, resulting from a recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land, hoping to connect with his own family history and perceiving the links between the two sides of the conflict, by experiencing the Palestine perspective.
The reflects of daytime experiences were sung, by nightly walks, into his I-phone, bringing into existence the basis for what became an exquisite philosophical conceptual album!
Half across the world, in the hills on St Ann’s Bay in Jamaica, Professor picked up the guitar and arranged the West Banks lyrics and experiences into 8 tracks totally focused in words and thoughts of Unity, Destiny, History and most important the direction of Oneness as a kind of answer for the so many times, politically and culturally, discussed questions blocking the conflict resolution.
Intentionally different from Groundation’s Jazz enhanced musical production, Madness dwells more into the Roots Reggae old fashion ways, featuring Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace on drums, Earl ‘Flabba Holt’ on Bass, Lloyd ‘Obeah’ Denton on piano/organ and Dalton Browne on Lead/Rhythm guitar, as the core group of musicians to bring just about the perfect musical (and surely atmospheric!) vibe for that purpose.
Altough the music has an obvious modern production touch, key elements of original Roots Reggae music feature all over the tracks with hearthical horns, guitar and organ arrangements in strong tracks like Jah Sending Out, Roller Coaster, Intafada or East Jerusalem.
Musical elements in the form of funky grooves (Right On), dancehall styled beats (Madness) or nyabhingi drums (Intifada; See Them Come), bring some variety into the music in Madness, where some credits have to go to the featuring of top session musicians like ‘Sticky’ Thompson, Andrew ‘Bassie’ Campbell, Little David or Steven Steward.
Another worth of praising aspect in Madness are the 8 dub versions presented. Chilled, spatial and dynamic versions mixed by Californian producer and Professor’s childhood friend, Rob Cross; aiming to complete the original tunes and showing that the showcase style albums are definitely back!
As usually on Groundation albums, Madness also presents featuring voices. Alongside Harrison Stafford original vocalizations and compelling, emotive and hopeful voice, we find the Elders vocals, this time with ‘Daddy’ U-Roy, Winston ‘Electric Dread’ McAnuff , Bernard ‘Satta’ Collins (Abyssinians) and Roydel ‘Ashanti’ Johnson (The Congos).
All the Elders bring perfect contributions to Professor’s words, calling out for Justice, Equality, Understanding and Togetherness as the key paths pointed, to promote the desired changed and awaited shift on the ways of fear that seem to be ruling but also coming to an end…
What’s going on with, and in the World? That seems to be a answer given by the title of this work, Madness…bringing a lack of awareness and little sense of existence all around as also on the troubled areas of the West Bank. With so many war, politics, crisis and discussions going on for so long now, Professor’s solo work seems to me, like another artistic musical statement, that Evolution seems to be the only revolution, not yet tried, capable of erasing this Madness.
A expected amazing solo debut from the Professor, Madness is surely one of the best Roots Reggae albums lately listened, and surely one of those that will last over time, as musically and lyrically it stands in the Now, with knowledge from Past and intentions for the Future!
More good things to come in this 2011 from the Professor musical missions, once not just his long time producing documentary Holding on to Jah is finally screening; a brand new studio album from Groundation is announced for later this year, and already 17th July, the first ever compilation from Groundation is coming out!
A gathering of 10 tunes from 2002-2009 featuring the Elders from Jamaica, as also never before released reasonings from Pablo Moses, Apple Gabriel, Don Carlos, The Congos and Ijahman Levi! Look out for the soon come blessings in the Gathering of the Elders!