Album of the Week: Wayne Jarrett’s Showcase Vol. 1 (1982)

I’m in California now, so naturally I took a trip to the beach. Amidst seagulls and sunbathers I ducked under my t-shirt for a couple puffs of my one-hitter. Climbing up some rocks with my cooler I settled down at a picnic table to enjoy some iced tea and mellow out. Music was in order and I turned to Wayne Jarrett’s Showcase Vol. 1, which was probably the best decision I made all week.

This shit is magic. There’s a formula of sorts – despite the 80s release date we have here some rootsy, organic reggae songs featuring Wayne’s smooth voice. Then about halfway through each track we get a “version”: each song is dubbed out to glory before our very ears. The first two tracks, while great, have relatively short dubs. But once we get to “Magic in the Air”, which is a great song in its own right, there’s about 3-and-a-half minutes of dubby goodness in the backend.

“Bubble Up”‘s muted hi-hat creates a revolving, hypnotic dub that provides a base for some wicked guitar and flute vamping. “Darling Your Eyes” is a fat lovers rock song and possibly the best track here. At just 6 tracks, the brief album closes with “Holy Mount Zion”, recalling in melody Dadawah’s classic “Run Come Rally”.

In the mid-2000s, Basic Channel undertook a reissue project for the legendary American reggae music label Wackie’s, which originally released Showcase Vol. 1, along with other killer LPs like Horace Andy’s Dancehall Style and Junior Delahaye’s Showcase. If it wasn’t for them, we probably wouldn’t be hearing this album to today, so I’ll end this one on a big salute to Basic Channel.

Listen to Showcase, Vol. 1 here.

Album of the Week: Luiz Bonfa’s Introspection (1972)

Introspection – How It Feels to Chew 5 Gum! Our head is a castle, our mind a sky. And what better way to journey through the clouds than on the wings of an acoustic guitar?

Rio de Janeiro’s Luiz Bonfa had a lucrative career as part of the samba scene of the 50s and 60s, notably writing some of the music for the brilliant film Black Orpheus (1959), including “Manha de Carnaval”, which has been covered by many including Astrud Gilberto. His collaboration with Stan Getz, Jazz Samba Encore! (1963), was a hit that includes Bonfa’s “Saudade Vem Correndo”, which was sampled by J Dilla on the Pharcyde classic “Runnin’”. The guy could write a good song.

Introspection feels more improvisational, but it’s short and sweet at just over 26 minutes. This works to the album’s advantage as the songs are quite similar. No vocals or accompanying instruments, just that airy guitar, slowing in tempo and then picking up again like a classical movement (hence, “Concerto for Guitar”). “Missal (Estudo)” stands out for having what sounds like two guitars in the mix (although I am almost certain there is only one) for a wonderful harmonic effect.

Listen to Introspection here.