The Cool Runnings Orchestra (Schiefel, Monniot, Tóth, Codjia, Daerr, Szandai, Drake) Tribute to Marley
What has contemporary jazz got to do with Bob Marley? What sense is there in adding another to the long line of cover albums, when this concept, often an 'easy rider', has long been a hoary chestnut (for instance, the Twist of Marley CD)? (...) In BMC circles the reggae idea was first floated in 2006 during a long car journey, when we were bringing Hamid Drake back from Austria to record in Budapest. After the improvised duo concert with the outstanding Swiss pianist Iréne Schweizer, somewhat to my surprise, he moved onto reggae for nearly three hours...
Michael Schiefel - voice, electronics
Christophe Monniot - alto, baritone and sopranino saxophones
Viktor Tóth - alto saxopohone
Manu Codjia - guitar
Carsten Daerr - piano, organ, fender rhodes, melodica
Mátyás Szandai - double bass
Hamid Drake - drums
About the album
All compositions by Bob Marley, except track 4 by Carsten Daerr and track 6 by Viktor Tóth
Arrangements by Christophe Monniot (1, 5), Michael Schiefel (2), Carsten Daerr (3, 9) and Manu Codjia (7, 8)
Christophe Monniot uses Selmer saxophones and Vandoren reeds
Recorded by László Válik at the Sándor Weöres Theater, Szombathely, 8-10 june, 2011
Mixed and mastered by László Válik at L.V. Hang Studio, Budapest
Artwork & design: Bachman
Produced by László Gőz
Label manager: Tamás Bognár
Supported by the Goethe-institut Budapest, the Institut Français de Budapest and the National Cultural Fund of Hungary
The recording was made in coproduction with the Mediawave Festival, Szombathely
Festival director: Jenő Hartyándi; coordinators: Péter Pusker and Judit Csobod
The Cool Runnings Orchestra (Schiefel, Monniot, Tóth, Codjia, Daerr, Szandai, Drake): Tribute to Marley
Okay, so why do it?
In BMC circles the reggae idea was first floated in 2006 during a long car journey, when we were bringing Hamid Drake back from Austria to record in Budapest. After the improvised duo concert with the outstanding Swiss pianist Iréne Schweizer, somewhat to my surprise, he moved onto reggae for nearly three hours. It is little known that this 56-year-old American drummer, with dreadlocks down to his ankles, for many years played as a session musician with the greatest reggae stars before he became famous on the contemporary jazz scene.
Since then from time to time, amongst musicians associated with BMC Records I have raised the possibility of creating an unusual reggae project. It turned out that far more jazz musicians have reggae roots than I thought, and many of them get a buzz from the genre’s freaky approach. It also became obvious that the common denominator was clearly the music of the king of reggae, Bob Marley.*
Of the French pair on this recording 15 years ago the saxophonist Christophe Monniot played with his own reggae group as the warm-up band of the illustrious exponents of the genre, so it was no coincidence that reggae motifs also appear on his later jazz albums. On the latest CD by his old fellow musician Manu Codjia the style also gets a look-in, in the form of two Bob Marley arrangements.
Neither is the affinity for reggae of the two Berlin musicians a new fad: the pianist Carsten Daerr wrote his own memorial piece to Marely for an earlier trio album, and in a duo he plays dub versions and reggae-fied transcriptions of Bach and Gershwin with the singer Michael Schiefel.
The two Hungarian musicians are no strangers to the language of reggae either. Besides having two joint albums with Hamid Drake behind them, saxophonist Viktor Tóth has written several compositions in the genre, and thanks to his mother’s record collection bassist Mátyás Szandai’s also grew up on the music of Bob Marley.
The final push to create The Cool Runnings Orchestra was given by Jenő Hartyándi, director of the Mediawave festival, when he offered to act as a partner in continuing the earlier BMC-Mediawave joint projects. So the band first met in Szombathely, the new home for Mediawave, where after four-day recording process they gave their debut concert.
During a chat to Hamid Drake in the studio period, mention was made of the legendary On-U Sound label and workshop, which revived many genres and engaged in revolutionary experiments in what now seem utterly natural combinations of electronic sounds, effects, samples and differing styles. Folk for instance (African Headcharge), blues (Little Axe) and last but not least reggae (Dub Syndicate). We smiled at the fact that though a replica of this classic kind of On-U vibe could not be our aim, in terms of attitude, as a distant parallel it can nevertheless be said: this improvised reggae is also ‘a new’ (On-U) sound.
Then after the performance of The Cool Runnings Orchestra my old reggae biker brother said stirringly: ‘This was an experience, like the Dub Syndicate fifteen years ago.’ Then I was sure we were on the right track.
BMC label manager
Translated by Richard Robinson
*This CD is partly a measure of our respect, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the death of Bob Marley.