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Monty Alexander and Ernest Ranglin

Monty Alexander and Ernest Ranglin.
Paul Schomer, NPR
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Monty Alexander and Ernest Ranglin.

Jamaican pianist Monty Alexander and guitarist Ernest Ranglin are old friends, countrymen and music legends.

As young sidemen in Kingston in the early 1960s -- Alexander started out at 15 -- the two logged many hours at Studio One, birthplace of ska music. They worked with the late Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, a pioneer ska producer, and stars such as Toots Hibbert, Theophilous Beckford and Clue J and His Blues Blasters.

NPR's Liane Hansen talks to Alexander and Ranglin about their long history in Jamaican music and their later success as jazz soloists. Joined by bassist Hassan Shakur, the musicians also perform tracks from their latest CD collaboration, Rocksteady.

The disc collects new versions of a dozen ska and rocksteady classics. Included are the Ansel and Dave Collins hit "Double Barrel," "Confucius" by the Ska-Talites, and a moving rendition of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song."

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