Though Ernest Ranglin (credited here as Ernie) is often and deservedly honored as a reggae guitar progenitor- especially given his early associations with fellow one-drop architects, The Wailers- this elder statesman of the genre should be just as accurately listed as a champion of jazz. In fact, it’s that hybrid of reggae and jazz that Ranglin has not only forged but essentially mastered; innovating and creating an eternal bounce of lightness and renewal. Combine that with another island force, and seasoned Trench Town native, saxophonist Dean Fraser, for a collaboration of the highest order: two esteemed national treasures of Jamaica.
This is the musical equivalent of the best spot in the sand; with zephyrs of notes warming or cooling as they glide by without a trace of haste. On the dozen tracks, mostly written or co-written by Fraser, his intent is clear: leave plenty of space for Ranglin’s thoughtful guitar and Fraser’s assertive horn. Big Youth drops in for a vocal cameo on the leading “De Ranglin,” but essentially this is an instrumental affair and a relentlessly optimistic one.
An early couplet- the irresistibly calming “Mi Nuh Know” followed by the gentle heat of “Sam-Fi”- is a shining study of contrast in mood and feel present throughout the record. Two colors, perhaps, but infinite shades of nuance and moment, almost tracing the day from rise to dusk, then into the after-hours of the slow dance. Fraser and Ranglin are a smart pairing, each at a stage in their distinguished careers when creating the soundtrack for sea and sun never sounded so pleasing or effortless.