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World Music CD Reviews Jazz

Various Artists

By Bruce Miller
Published April 3, 2007

Studio One Scorcher Vol. 2
Studio One DJs Vol. 2

Soul Jazz

It's tempting to simply call these solid CDs, in the vintage Studio One tradition. Or the Soul Jazz tradition. That could be the review; it's almost redundant to say anything more. Anyone with one or more SJ Studio One reissues knows how consistently great this stuff is, how it's the foundation for dub and dancehall, blah, blah, blah. But does quantity take away from quality? Or is it's merely the label’s job to package all this history, whether or not they sell it? Never mind. Like Studio One Scorchers Vol. 1, number two is a wonderful trawl through the vaults of vintage late ’60s and early ’70s reggae instrumentals. There are several gorgeous tracks by keyboard innovator Jackie Mittoo, familiar grooves re-used time and again, whether they be a Pablove Black melodica over a Burning Spear record or a Vin Gordon trombone overdub atop an earlier Mittoo side. Vol. 2 de-emphasizes ska and concentrates on slinky, smokey jams, with highlights including Dub Specialist’s “Gumbay Jump” and Mittoo’s sensual, organ-driven soundtrack to sunshine and free time, “A Big Car.”

The second Studio One DJs set is further evidence that toasting over previously recorded rhythms is far more than a novelty. Excellent sides by Prince Jazzbo, Dennis Alcapone, Prince Far I (by his original moniker, King Cry Cry), King Stitt and the under-recorded Brigadier Jerry are included here, and as goofy as some of these proto-raps might seem, one can imagine the DJ hollering over the moment’s hot grooves as they pour from massive speakers. In this way, they obliterate the original cuts, turning them into something freakier, more immediate and often more infectious than anyone had imagined. So while the sheer quantity of Studio One product available might be confounding, the good news is, the quality shows no signs of flagging.