by Howard Campbell
[KINGSTON, Jamaica] – In June, Ernie Ranglin is expected to celebrate his 90th birthday. And one of the events marking that personal milestone will be the release of “Two Colors: Dean Fraser & Ernie Ranglin”.
The album is tentatively scheduled for release by Tad’s International Record in late May. It has 12 songs, mainly instrumentals featuring Ranglin, the famed guitarist whose career began in the 1940s, and Fraser, Jamaica’s premier saxophonist.
De Ranglin, an uptempo number featuring veteran deejay Big Youth, is the set’s lead single.
Fraser, who produced the album, said production started here in early 2021. Ranglin, who lives in rural St. Mary parish, recorded his parts in nearby Ocho Rios.
“To be on the same album with Mr. Ranglin is a dream come through. This project shows how much reggae is a force to be reckoned with; our music has no limits,” said Fraser.
None of the musicians accompanying Ranglin on ‘Two Colors’ were born when the jazz-influenced musician began playing in bands in Kingston during the late 1940s. Fraser was just seven years-old when Wranglin, his first album, was released in 1964 by Island Records.
That year, Ranglin arranged and played on My Boy Lollipop, a monster ska hit for teenaged Jamaican singer Millie Small in the United Kingdom and United States.
The following year, he played the jazzy solo on It Hurts to be Alone, a ballad by The Wailers featuring Junior Braithwaite on lead vocals.
In the 1990’s, Ranglin collaborated with pianist Monty Alexander, another Jamaican jazz legend.
Jazz Jamaica, the last of his 31 solo albums, came out in 2014.