Count Ossie & Mystic Revelation Of Rastafari - Grounation 3xLP
Label: Dub Store
Release Date: June 26th, 2020
Without Count Ossie, it could be argued, there would be no ska, no reggae, no dancehall, no Jamaican popular music as we currently know it. A Rastafarian drummer born Oswald Williams in 1926, Count Ossie began performing Nyabinghi music in the 1950s. This rhythm and chant heavy religious meditation derived from the drumming traditions of enslaved Africans brought to Jamaica in the 17th and 18th centuries. At this time, Rastas were generally considered outcasts and were especially shunned by the Jamaican music world which was primarily R&B, mento and calypso. However with persistence, his group broke through into the clubs in the late 50s and with the help of Prince Buster, backed the Folkes Brothers on their now legendary 1959 single "Oh! Carolina". That song – another version of which is featured on this set – is widely assumed to be a huge influence on the creation of the ska rhythm, and many even consider it one of the earliest, if not the earliest, examples of ska in recorded music.
Ossie continued to perform and record regularly throughout the 60s and recorded this, his magnum opus, with his group The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari in 1973. Grounation is, of course, a drum-heavy experience, punctuated by a loose horn section, chanting and incantations. Ossie is joined in his group by the legendary saxophonist Cedric "Im" Brooks, whose playing and horn charts are clearly jazz-inspired. At times, Grounation sounds surprisingly similar to some of the more percussion-heavy American spiritual jazz records of the 1970s. Whether that connection is due to actual inspiration or coincidence is unclear, but a through-line can be drawn from both genres directly back to their African ancestors. Nearly an hour and a half of hypnotic, improvisational, communal, heady music from one of the originators of Nyabinghi. Absolutely essential.