Rather wonderful this skazz musical homage to the Skatalites' Don Drummond (1932-1969) - a labour of love that includes some remixes by dub pioneer Lee ''Scratch'' Perry (who passed away in 2021) played by a superb collection of jazz players fronted by Swiss ace trombonist Samuel Blaser. Speaking to us back in 2018 he explained the Drummond appeal: ''Right before moving to New York in 2005, a friend of mine in Switzerland gave me a tape and told me to listen carefully to Don D. I didn’t know who he was back then. Since then I have been listening to that tape a thousand times and I am still discovering new stuff in there. It’s amazing how rich this music is. To my knowledge I don’t think anyone else has really paid tribute to the trombonist except for Rico Rodriguez and that was right after Don Drummond's death. Rico, who was one of Don’s protégés and whom I unfortunately met only once, used to travel to my hometown very often — his dentist was there. He used to play with local bands too.”
Routes co-produced and arranged by Blaser usually known as an avant-gardist but also a huge reggae head and pianist Alex Wilson - remember Alex? A hugely gifted Afro-Latin and salsa pianist from the UK who was on our radar in his Nu-Troop days with Gary Crosby and who has lived in Switzerland in more recent years. Alex does a tasty bit on the melodica in some choice rocksteady passages redolent of an Augustus Pablo vibration. Birmingham scene icon alto sax great Soweto Kinch (read about Kinch's formidable 2022 magnum opus White Juju) is on the record as is lovers rock legend singer Caroll Thompson last heard by us at a Mayank Patel Cadogan Hall presentation in 2021 who just about steals the show on 'Rainy Days' and the Blaser/Wilson/Thompson original 'Beautiful Bed of Lies'. Personnel in addition to Blaser, Kinch, Wilson, the guesting Perry, trombone icon Steve Turre and Thompson includes guitarist Alan Weekes, bassist Ira Coleman, drummer Dion Parson, tenorist Michael Blake, percussionist Edwin Sanz, bass trombonist Jennifer Warthon and the ''trombone choir'' triumvirate of John Fedchock, Johan Escalante & Glenn Ferris joining Turre who takes a magnificent lead line on 'Green Island'.
Worth getting the record just for these but there is considerable range and interest throughout. The treatment of Drummond's 'Green Island' rewards constant rotation given its in-depth elements in the narrative arc of the piece. Very different idiomatically to Blaser's best work that we know which is Spring Rain but every bit as good and guaranteed to loosen you up and journey way behind the beat. 'Beautiful Bed of Lies' and the storming 'Chronicles' are streaming. Routes is out on 12 May.