A session musician in the mold of reggae’s greats, Ian “Beezy” Coleman has backed many outstanding singers in a career that started during the 1980s. In early 2024, he gets vocal on Ultimate Love, his debut EP.
Coleman, known for his long association with the Marley family, plans to release the six-song project in early February, celebrated as Reggae Month in Jamaica. The EP has been in the works for some time, but touring and loss of important equipment kept him from completing it.
In addition to playing rhythm guitar, he shows his vocal prowess throughout Ultimate Love, which contains the title song, Confusion and Solution.
Drummer Squiddly Cole, another stalwart of the Marley network, veteran bassist Devon Bradshaw, keyboardist Winta James and guitarist Lamont “Monty” Savory, are some of the musicians who played on Ultimate Love.
Recording and touring with The I-Three, Stephen and Ziggy Marley, Burning Spear and Andrew Tosh, helped Coleman develop an appreciation for singing, which he did a little of in the past with producer Barry O’Hare.
“Some of di songs I did were not in di sense to get dem out there, but I have had songs dat were released by Barry and a label name RUNN Netherlands,” Coleman disclosed.
Praise Him and Ten to One (cover of a Curtis Mayfield song made popular in Jamaica by The Madlads and Cornel Campbell) were two of the songs he did with O’Hare as Beezy Coleman in the 1990s. For most of that decade, however, he toured with Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers, a group that won three Grammy Awards.
Coleman was born in rural Vere, Clarendon in the heart of Jamaica’s sugar belt. He discovered music there in the Seventh Day Adventist Church, but approaching adulthood, became disillusioned with organized religion.
He moved to nearby St. Ann parish where his interest in music grew and he became a member of a band managed by Karl Young, an hotelier and future owner of IRIE FM radio station. It was then that he got his big break.
“Mrs. (Rita) Marley came there an’ tell Missa Young, ‘mi love yuh band!’. An’ dat’s how wi start work with her an’ di I-Three,” said Coleman.
His favourite guitarists range from jazz to reggae. They include Lee Ritenour and Earl Klugh, Al Anderson, Junior Marvin, Donald Kinsey and Earl “Chinna” Smith of The Wailers, Dwight Pinkney and Dalton Browne.
By Howard Campbell for Worldareggae.com