Ernest Ranglin and Friends
27th June, Barbican, London

ernest ranglin 2

Billed as a farewell concert the hall at the Barbican was full to witness this gig, paying tribute to one of the 20th century’s most talented and influential musicians. Guitarist and producer Ernest Ranglin, one of the early proponents of ska and reggae and a formidable jazzer hit the stage.

One week after turning 84, Ernest Ranglin absoloutely bounded onto the stage for over two hours of jazz infused music which was notable for its joyfulness and for Ranglin’s engagement with his musicians.

He shared the stage with afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen. The respective co-architects of ska and afrobeat. Also on stage were Senegalese multi-instrumentalist Cheikh Lô, British saxophonist Soweto Kinch, bassist Ira Coleman and latin jazz pianist Alex Wilson.

The audience fed off the high spirits and joyfulness emanating from the musicians. The music included colourful ska and reggae standards, Ranglin originals plus Cheikh Lô’s soulful songs.

There was a wonderful sense of vitalisty and engagement between Ranglin and the musicians as he danced from musician to musician to share musical exchanges that felt rich in generosity.

Ranglin also demonstrated that he can still hold his own on the guitar. He delighted us with his classics such as ‘Below The Bassline’ and ‘Surfin’’. Using a pick for lead, at times he’d play single notes, at others Ranglin draped his left hand over the fret-board and produced percussive rhythms on his instrument.

The set comprised revisits to Jamaican material overlaid with jazz and afro sensibilities. The crowd was rapturous and farewelled Ranglin with a standing ovation. A historic moment for this musical legend.

Tony Allen – drums, Cheikh Lô – instrumentalist, vocals, Soweto Kinch – saxophonist, Ira Coleman – bass and Alex Wilson – pianist.

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