Ranglin rides the charts
Guitar maestro Ernie Ranglin

ONE week before the release of Two Colors, his collaborative album with saxophonist Dean Fraser, guitar legend Ernie Ranglin has entered reggae charts in South Florida and New York.

De Ranglin, lead single from the set, featuring Big Youth, is number 18 on the South Florida Top 25 Reggae Chart and number 23 on the Foundation Radio Network Chart.

Both tables are operated by veteran broadcaster Clinton Lindsay.

Two Colors is scheduled for release on May 27 by Tad’s International Record. Produced by Fraser, it contains 11 songs.

Ranglin, who turns 90 on June 19, has a storied career that started in the 1940s with the Eric Deans Orchestra. He was an established musician in clubs and hotels when he became one of Island Records’ first employees in 1959, shortly after that label started in Kingston.

He recently spoke to the Jamaica Observer about his career and what it means to be recording after over 70 years.

“It means I’m still alive and I’m glad to know that I’m able to be still doing this work that I started in my teens, so I give thanks to the Almighty for it,” said Ranglin.

He disclosed that he still practices, though not as much.

“My type of practice is mostly in my brain. I don’t do a lot of physical practice, but I study and do a lot of reading and still keep active that way,” Ranglin stated.

Recording sessions for Two Colors began one year ago in Kingston and Ocho Rios. Bass guitarists Mikey Fletcher and Dale Haslam, keyboardists Bowie McLaughlin and Andre Marsh, drummer Desi Jones and guitarist Lamont “Monty” Savory also played on the album.

Throughout his career, Ranglin has worked with reggae’s greats, including The Wailers, on whose 1964 hit song, It Hurts to be Alone, he played the memorable jazz solo. Earlier that year, he played on and arranged the ska song My Boy Lollipop, an international hit for Millie Small.

He is most proud of his role in breaking My Boy Lollipop, which was distributed and marketed by Island Records.

“That means I took the ska music from Jamaica, which I originated, and it became a hit. It was a great thing not only for Millie Small but for Jamaica,” said Ranglin.

In the 1970s, he toured with Jimmy Cliff as his musical director and recorded a series of fusion albums with Monty Alexander, The Skatalites and Senegalese singer Baaba Maal during the 1990s.

In 2021, Ernie Ranglin was awarded the Order of Jamaica, his country’s fifth-highest honour.

Howard Campbell

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