Wednesday, 18 November 2015

NOVEMBER: Dred Scott Fitzgerald- Irie Sol

This month's music instalment feature is slightly different to the usual monthly playlist, and far more exciting! When I received a press release email telling me all about Irie Sol's new album "Dred Scott Fitzgerald"*, I was more than I little intrigued.

For those of you who are unaware of Irie Sol, they are diverse musical band who can be sometimes describe as that of rap, to that of reggae and jazz to that of world music, and they manage to encompass this vast range of genres through their wide ranging members, who hail from places such as Kingston, Jamaica, to Chicago to Rio de Janeiro. Iris Sol can be described as delivering 'authentic Jamaican chat/Djing and soaring, soulful melodies backed by blazing bebop horns, wailing, guitar, and tight drum and bass'.

Dred Scott Fitzgerald is based upon one key question, 'Was Gatsby black?' The Great Gatsby is considered the 'novel of the jazz age', yet seemingly neglects the large proportion of African-Americans that were prolific in the jazz era at the time. And what of the Harlem Renaissance? These key questions and the jazz era of the 1920s fuels the album's tracks. Set out if chapters, this album truly tells a story through the medium of reggae and jazz, creating a type of music I had never experienced before, that of lit-hop or a novellalbum. 

Now, onto the tracks themselves...

CHAPTER I: Dancehall Daisy- By far one of my favourite tracks on the EP , this combination of jazz and the 'Daisy' ditty is both fun and brilliantly incorporates the themes of the book. For me, this track truly embodies the jazz era of the 20s' and the feel of Great Gatsby.

CHAPTER II: Reggae Gatsby- Again, another hit for me, Reggae Gatsby is a smooth jazz track with great harmonies, a clicking beat, and honey smooth vocals. Some rapping featured in the middle gives the track a more modern feel, and further connects with the audience. And man, those trumpeters can play!

CHAPTER III: Eau Claire Sound- A remixed, beatboxed intro, Eau Claire Sound embodies the reggae sound. The track picks up the tempo around 1:42 before getting right back onto the reggae grove. A chorus featuring numerous voices kind of reminds me of the call and response songs of both Jazz and the songs first created by slaves in the field.

CHAPTER IV: Bernice Dreds Her Hair- this track features rap heavily, dipping in and out of French and preaching the words of god and redemption. The lyrics feature key issues of life at the time, with references to Harlem and the fragility of life itself. The line 'How could sugar come from slavery?' resonates with me, and reminds one that the great music of the jazz era had somewhat come from the roots of slavery

CHAPTER V: The Great Garvey- the last track on the EP lowers the pace, resembling a ballad of reminiscence, interlaid with the beats of the reggae sound, as well as rap and a soliloquy in French. I , myself, am still slightly uncertain on this track, but I will have to listen to it a few more times before making an informed decision. I can't fault the great Sax solo though...

As a girl who has always been fascinated in studying African-Americans, the Harlem Renaissance, and a great lover of jazz herself, I found this album a joy to listen to, even if I was slightly uncertain on certain tracks, and I would highly recommend you listen to this album for an enlightened look into a different, intelligent genre of music.

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