CD Review: Tommy McCook, Dubbing With Horns

Tommy McCook Dubbing with Horns[Jamaican Recordings, 2011]

Sure, you probably know the name Tommy McCook from his days in ska, but you may not have heard much about him post-Skatalites. Fortunately, though, he did move onward, and I daresay upward, settling comfortably into the rich reggae of the 1970s – which is the period represented on Dubbing With Horns. Naturally McCook’s tenor sax remained as sophisticated, as jazz-influenced as ever, which these 18 dub tracks do nothing to disguise. In fact I’d say his playing doesn’t merely shine through the dub, loud and clear, but illuminates it – something to do with the dub genre’s improvisational approach that happens to be shared with ska and jazz.

The Jamaican Recordings label has released quite a bunch of remarkable dub albums lately – such delights as the recent Dub Treasures from The Black Ark – and this new disc has to be one of their most enjoyable. Don’t listen for vocals, however, or even fragments of such, because in this case they’re all instrumental dubs. But admit it, going an hour without hearing the human voice has its appeal at times. And if the dub that’s at play here is more tasteful than adventurous, well, that can be okay too.

One more thing: although the source material is ostensibly the roots reggae mentioned above, jazz lovers will recognize the real origins of a number of the melody lines (if not the riddims) including the Dave Brubeck Quartet standard “Take Five.” Whatever the origins, whatever the filters, whatever the enhancements, this is sweet stuff, all of it.



About Ted Boothroyd :

Ted has enjoyed music all his increasingly lengthy life. He has gone through various favorite artists along the way, from his mommy crooning lullabies at crib side to his dad singing folk songs on car trips to The Everly Brothers to Ian and Sylvia to The Dave Brubeck Quartet to The Lovin’ Spoonful to The Kinks to The Miracles to Ravi Shankar to Tchaikovsky to Pentangle to Miriam Makeba to The Red Army Chorus and Band to Captain Beefheart to Gilbert and Sullivan to The McGarrigle Sisters to The Clash to Louis Jordan to The Flying Bulger Klezmer Band to Manu Chao. He has trouble choosing favorites when it comes to reggae - that fixation has been too longstanding and too complete. Ted started writing about music late in 2002 with a book review in The Beat, continuing with book and album reviews until the magazine's untimely passing. His association with Jahworks.org dates back to 2003, and he has hosted a couple of radio shows featuring reggae and "world music". Ted also sculpts in plaster and wood. | View all posts by Ted Boothroyd

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Ted has enjoyed music all his increasingly lengthy life. He has gone through various favorite artists along the way, from his mommy crooning lullabies at crib side to his dad singing folk songs on car trips to The Everly Brothers to Ian and Sylvia to The Dave Brubeck Quartet to The Lovin’ Spoonful to The Kinks to The Miracles to Ravi Shankar to Tchaikovsky to Pentangle to Miriam Makeba to The Red Army Chorus and Band to Captain Beefheart to Gilbert and Sullivan to The McGarrigle Sisters to The Clash to Louis Jordan to The Flying Bulger Klezmer Band to Manu Chao. He has trouble choosing favorites when it comes to reggae - that fixation has been too longstanding and too complete.

Ted started writing about music late in 2002 with a book review in The Beat, continuing with book and album reviews until the magazine's untimely passing. His association with Jahworks.org dates back to 2003, and he has hosted a couple of radio shows featuring reggae and "world music". Ted also sculpts in plaster and wood.

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