The Cool Runnings Orchestra

The Cool Runnings Orchestra (does anyone remember the movie? It is truly an international effort – two Frenchmen and two Berliners, one American, and one Hungarian gathered under the flag of Jamaica. “Tribute To Marley” features six Marley songs, one of which is performed twice, and two originals in the same style (one by Toth, and one by Daerr). The first surprise (a jazz band covering Marley?) is now over. The second surprise is the way they do this. Cool Runnings Orchestra’s renditions of reggae songs can be tricky and challenging. Although you may recognize the melody, the rhythmic reggae pulsations are not immediately obvious. You might not expect to find eerie, hypnotic, and pensieve elements. Each song has a twist. You can see the modifications to the main riff of “Is This Love”, which is the touching, lyrical take on “Could You Be Loved”. (see video below). Sharp post-bop solos on the piano give it a harmonic edge. Echoing electronically altered voices add a mysterious touch. Hypnotic “Natural Mystic”, and “Jammin'”. The sweet and gentle “No Woman No Cry”, which glides gently, smooth, is a warm and soothing song. “Redemption Song” is a swaying rhythm that alternates between mysteriously dark ensemble improvisation tones and soulful beats. Ironically, the most obvious reggae songs are those written by the band (“Rastaman Frustration”) with a vibrant dub section and the joyland and light “Nap-Nap”. There’s also an unplugged version of “Is This Love”, which closes the album. It’s just a vocal with alto and baritone saxophones, creating a r’nb-like melodic base. (Yet another surprise, it’s a bonus track with another band). While I try to answer unnecessary questions (like “Is this too fusion?” too reggae? too little reggae? Too far-fetched? This music continues to exude passion, love and optimism (nonetheless with the darker shades) and I keep pressing the “play” button. The charm of Bob Marley, the charm of jazz, and the charm of music that draws you closer with every listen. One Love. An infectious listen. from

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