Dusted Reviews

Tommy McCook - Blazing Horns / Tenor In Roots

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Tommy McCook

Album: Blazing Horns / Tenor In Roots

Label: Blood and Fire

Review date: Sep. 30, 2004

Founder of the Skatalites and leader of Duke Reid’s The Supersonics, Tommy McCook is a notable figure in roots reggae. McCook's The Blazing Horns / Tenor in Roots compilation is a powerful collection of 1970s instrumental dub and highlights roots reggae’s connections to jazz and ska. As roots reggae has been characterized by politically conscious lyrics, messages of Rastafari and other charged topics faced by the underrepresented and underprivileged, one might wonder what place does instrumental dub have in the genre?

The album is characterized by a continuous groove, outlined by a solid rhythm section and horns carrying melodies so memorable, it's easy to forget the absence of vocals. McCook uses titles to set the tone for each each song on the album. Songs like “Glorious Lion,” “Ites of Zion,” “Jah,” and “Lamb’s Bread” refer to Rastafari elements and represent conviction, praise, and honor for Jah Rastafari. “Ites of Zion” features a killer tenor sax solo and “Jah” falls into a locked groove while the organ takes liberty filling in melody and complimenting the smooth horn melodies.

These tracks feel like love songs cooed in a Miles Davis or Coltrane vein. As such, McCook reminds us of the various Diaspora influences in Jamaica, a culture of international mixture. “Riding West” has a slow but blatant ska melody with McCook soloing on tenor sax, differing from the multiple brass he uses on other tracks. McCook “sings” a solid melody through the first verse, and then introduces blues/jazz improv motifs on the next verses, playing with the established melody. The '70s musical influence becomes more apparent on later tracks. “More Music,” “Tubby’s Control,” “Everyday Sax” and “South Side Feeling” - referring to Jamaica’s downtown Kingston neighborhood - return to trombone, sax and trumpet hooks with some heavy jazz/disco/R&B feel.

The last four tracks return to the mesmerizing tenor sax melodies introduced at the beginning of the album. Indeed, “When I Fall in Dub” comes straight from the heart of McCook, proving again that instruments can say just as much about love, Rastafari, and the homeland as any singer. Blazing Horns / Tenor in Roots is perfect for relaxation and meditation, but most importantly, McCook’s song themes remind us to take our time, prioritize what’s important and to Satta; indeed we can never be sure what tomorrow will bring.

By Jadele McPherson

Read More

View all articles by Jadele McPherson

Find out more about Blood and Fire

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.