There is no one, single most important person in Jamaican music. However if such a contest were to be tallied, guitarist, arranger, A&R man and all round eminence Ernest Ranglin would be very high on the list. Spanning jazz, mento, ska, rocksteady and reggae the Manchester parish born maestro seems to have been present at nearly every crucial moment in the music's history. From playing on the first mento discs to cutting the maiden album on Island Records, from birthing the ska with Coxsone to working behind the scenes at Rocksteady HQ with Duke Reid, from overseeing arguably the first reggae session in 1967 to working on Police and Thieves in 1976, Ernest has done it all. Not least the steady stream of highly acclaimed solo albums including 1972's Cedric Brooks collaboration Ranglin Roots and the jazzified reggae standards of 1996's crossover Below The Bassline - alongside his spar Monty Alexander who he met in the late 1950s playing with Clue JU and The Blues Blasters.
In recent years, Ernest Ranglin has gone back to his roots and has made various cross-cultural collaborations and concept albums. In 2008 Ranglin was inducted into the Jamaican Music Hall of Fame.
Ranglin shows no signs of slowing down and he continues to unselfishly give himself to the music, his fans and his collaborators, including the band he played and recorded two albums in 2011 and 2013, called Avila. The project went so well that Ranglin and the band decided to get to the studio and record Bless Up, featuring 11 new Ranglin compositions. With this album, they experimented with different rhythms, textures and flavors; they brewed up one of the finest albums Ranglin has ever made.
Ranglin, now 83 years young, is still going strong with plans for more live shows. He continues to write songs and says he is loving every second he gets to spread soulful music with people all around the world.