Professor is the founder and lead singer of the sensational Groundation, a nine-piece band with an altogether new reggae sound, featuring swirling, jazz/funk inspired horns, stout Latin and African based poly-rhythmics, and soulful harmony vocals. Groundation is considered uniquely authentic roots reggae band in the vein of The Abyssinians, The Congos, and The Melodians. They use analog instruments and recording equipment rather than digital, with Professor explaining “No digital, we don’t work with synthesizers. Just like in the 1970s. We stick to that format.”
Professor just may be the man who is currently redefining a genre that has lost it’s way since the passing of the overseers of reggae: people like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Dennis Brown, Joseph Hill, and Gregory Isaacs. His critically and commercially successful albums with Groundation tell a “collective and linear story that seeks to interpret the truly historic times we are living in.” His reputation as an authentic roots reggae musician comes not only from his unquestionable knowledge of the genre and culture, or from his use of analog recording, but also because he works hand-in-hand with the greatest living roots musicians. Don Carlos, The Congos, Pablo Moses (singer), Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace (drummer), Ras Michael (percussion), and Marcia Higgs (singer) are just a few of the names that have collaborated with professor and Groundation.
His forthcoming DVD, which I recently had the opportunity to preview, is the follow-up to his solo project Madness, an album that speaks to the struggle endured by those involved in the Palestinean/Israeli crisis.
“Groundation has performed in Israel several times. Me being an American jew, I always had Palestinian friends who wanted to bring me to West Bank. So I called a friend and said that I would meet him at Damascus Gate, and I spent two weeks in the West Bank and the experience was very moving. I spent time with Palestinian families, and poets, and students, and musicians, and merchants in Hebron Gate. I didn’t have anything so I just wrote these songs while walking at night. “
While in Palestine, Professor met a musician who felt very negatively toward reggae music, even stating that reggae music is a negative music and that Bob Marley’s music, in particular, promoted a very Zionist message.
“So I said ‘I need to go record some real Jamaican roots reggae music about my experiences in Palestine. So the album is called Madness and it is a Professor project. Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace was my first call, Flabba Holt was my second call, because if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right.”
The album Madness was composed by Professor at his home in St. Ann’s Bay, JA and was recorded at Harry J’s studio with the legendary musicians he recruited to help tell his story. There are guest performances by U-Roy, Ashanti Roy, Winston McAnuff, and Bernard Collins of The Abyssinians.
The DVD tells Professor’s story, and includes live performances and interviews with the musicians that he recruited to help him with the project. There are very insightful interviews with Flabba, Horsemouth, Obeah, Dalton Brownie, and great live performances of Professor’s new music and the band performing several classics like Burning Spear’s “Throw Down Your Arms” and Bunny Wailer’s “Amagideon.”