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(Published: January 19, 2011)

Eleven Musicians of the Gowanus Reggae and Ska Society Instrumentally Interpret Music from Catch a Fire

With the release of G.R.A.S.S. on Fire, G.R.A.S.S - the appropriately abbreviated Gowanus Reggae and Ska Society - have taken on the challenge of bringing the music of the legendary Bob Marley and the Wailers to an entirely new level. On G.R.A.S.S. On Fire, this collection of eleven intrepid musician/explorers "dedicated to bringing the sounds of classic Ska and Reggae to the fine people of Brooklyn and beyond," bring a jazz perspective to Marley's seminal 1973 release, Catch A Fire, instrumentally interpreting the reggae pioneer's music so that it retains all of its original passion and sincerity.

G.R.A.S.S features some of the finest players from Brooklyn's vibrant musical community, creating music with the spontaneity of jazz and a deep reverence for Jamaican rhythm. The society is made up of an ever-evolving group of players, including bassist J.A. Granelli, Nate Shaw on keyboards, Mark Miller on trombone, saxophonists Michael Blake, Ohad Talmor, and Paul Carlon, David Barnes on harmonica, Russ Meissner on drums and guitarists Tony Romano, David Bailis, and Brad Shepik.

The goal of the Society, says Granelli, who is the son of legendary drummer Jerry Granelli, "is to bring as many interesting voices to the music as possible." Nate Shaw adds, "the band is made up of jazz musicians who all share the same profound respect for the music of Jamaica. The love runs deep." G.R.A.S.S. is a mere toddler of a band - about three years old - born out of what the musicians called "big ass playdates," at which they would gather at Shaw's house, along with wives and kids, to jam and just hang out. The "Society" came out of those gatherings, as the rhythm section began to regularly focus on dissecting specific reggae songs in what Granelli calls a "free form school of rhythm."

Rather than work away at the distinctions between improvisational jazz and Reggae, when the players in G.R.A.S.S. connect, it's obvious that the two genres have vastly more in common than they have differences. "It's impossible to understand jazz fully without an understanding of African and Western European classical music, for instance," says Granelli. "Mento-ska-rocksteady-reggae-dance hall" all spring originally from those same roots, so in effect our study of jazz and other forms of American roots music led us to Jamaican music naturally."

The Society's first foray into presenting reggae in the context of an entire album was in 2009, when they performed the music from the soundtrack to The Harder They Come at The Bowery Poetry Club in New York. The concept was so well received, the players so inspired by what they'd been able to create, that they decided to capture their next effort -

More Information: http://www.gowanusreggae.com

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