It has been ten years since the formation of Ska Jazz Messengers; a decade of changes and metamorphosis as they follow their musical quest. Numerous musicians and lineups have allowed the band’s roots ample time to reassess ideas that are finally coming to fruition in 2019.
Ska Jazz Messengers may well be the sole representatives of Venezuelan Ska Jazz today; survivors of a very fruitful period for this genre in their home country. As political and social situations made it harder for other groups to keep going and their members dispersed across the Venezuelan Diaspora, SJM have soldiered on. Even though their musical style might be considered “underground” in most countries, they’ve managed to spread their name to fans of Jamaican music across the globe, as well as expose new ears to these captivating styles.
Between 2014 and 2016 the band’s popularity exploded, in their own country, as well as abroad, thanks to their cover of Pharell William’s “Happy”, which has so far garnered almost half a million plays. This song earned them an appearance on the German compilation “Skannibal Party”, while in Venezuela they were nominated for the Pepsi Music Awards for two consecutive years.
In 2016, the band was invited by Hakase Sun (respected session player in the Japanese Reggae/Ska/Alternative music scene since the late 80’s) to collaborate on one track for his 8th solo album. Hakase has played and recorded with a number of Jamaican and British legends, and has participated in important Japanese bands including Little Tempo, Oki Dub Ainu Band, Tsuyoshi Kawakami and His Moodmakers and Fishmans. This collaboration has gained SJM such notoriety in the Land of the Rising Sun that they will not only have Hakase himself on their new album, but also a number of other guests from all over the world, including the bassist and wonderful producer: Victor Rice, Joey Altruda (Jump with Joey), Esteban Descalzo (fantastic Argentinan producer, sound engineer and musician), Emerson Kitamura (Mute Beat/ ASA CHANG duo and many more), Horacio Blanco (Desorden Público), Prince Fatty, and Satoru Takeshima (Ego-Wrappin’).
Ska Jazz Messengers’ debut album will be released in late 2019 on Madrid’s Liquidator Music, a label that has published some of the most relevant Reggae/Ska/Soul releases of the last twenty years. “Introspección” leverages all the hard-work the band has put in, against all obstacles, to finally record their long-awaited debut album; twelve vibrant tracks that express the maturity and sensibilities of its members. Without looking to emulate current “retro” trends, or ostentations big band arrangements, Ska Jazz Messengers build sonic bridges that connect everything from Nu Soul to Anglo Pop, Brazilian Music, Soul, R&B, Funk, Afro-Venezuelan sounds and Modal Jazz to that rich and authentic sound of Traditional Jamaican Music.
Their first single covers the iconic O’Brien brothers (Las 4 Monedas) and cements their sound with a mix of retro, modern, current and fresh, smoothly going from that memorable Spanish Soul A Go-Go sound to an elegantly addictive Ska. The versatility of this young lineup, combined with the know-how of producer and engineer Ricardo Martinez (Remoto Estudio), the arrangements of guitarist Rafael Frias, and the captivating vocals of Ruthsy Fuentes generate a peculiar sonic magic throughout the album, magic that helps make “Introspección” into a very special album.
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