Carlos Malcolm & His Afro Jamaican Rhythms: The Royal Ska

Date: Sat, 23 May 1998 20:50:34 -0600 (MDT)
From: Papa Pilgrim <>
To: RAW Forum <>
Subject: Re: [review] - Carlos Malcolm & His Afro Jamaican Rhythms: The Royal Ska (fwd)

I found this review on the rmr newsgroup. It was written by Juha Vaahtera <> whom I believe lives in Finland.

Carlos is now managed by RAW Member #1071

Fred Campbell
6181 Country Fair Circle
Boynton Beach FL 33434
P: 561-733-6646
C: Artist Mgt: Carlos Malcolm
Membership #1071 Email:

Deejays and writers/reviewers would do well to see if Fred has any more promotional copies. This is indeed a 5 star album.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 22:01:39 -0600 (MDT)

Since no one in this group has even mentioned this relatively new release from Jamaican Gold, I decided to say a few words about it. I feel that release like this record should not be left unnoticed.

Carlos Antonio Malcolm, born in Panama, but taken to Jamaica when he was just two years old, was one of the great bandleaders in ska and the much undocumented era preceding it. He was and probably still would be a high calibre composer, arranger, trombonist, percussionist and pianist and mostly forgotten figure until this most welcome package got released.

I didn't expect much of this album although his only hit "Bonanza Ska" has been my favorite a long time. Thus it was a delightful surprise to hear a good and ambitious release like this record is. The overall feeling is versatility, there's almost every element of early Jamaican music presentmento, calypso, ska, latin, r&b and jazz. All mixed together (in different portions) in a tasty way, not watered down, like some other "versatile" performers of the genre - not mentioning any names ;)

The second impression is the presence of Africa, like you'd expect from the band's name - for example in mento number "Cut Munu", the sound of which is so close to some African bands playing their rumba in the 50's/60's (Franco et le TPOK Jazz, Tabu Ley, and some Nigerian highlife performers come to mind so surprisingly). At the same time the sound is so Jamaican - true "heartbeat" music, with no connections to rasta - just pure Afro-Jamaican music - there's much more true African music in these recordings than in any rasta reggae music, melodies of which are more related to European chorals or hymns than African popular music. Alright, there's instrumental version of Lord Libby's Ethiopia also present.

The arrangements are the real "beef" in these records. It seems that Carlos has grown with and adapted those Afro-Cuban influences so easily. Arr's are so close to Perez Prado's masterworks (those squeeking trumpets, farting trombones and honking saxes everywhere) - not as bestial as Prado's but near enough to give that feeling of tension that something's going to happen! The self composed ska tune Tip-Toe is the closest example. It is as original ska as say any Skatalites tune but the horn arrangements and some chord changes make it sound Pradoesque at the same time. I'd call that style "ska montuno" or "mambo ska".

The album kicks off with a jolly six-minute medley of traditional mento tunes "Bangalee", "Can't Bawl At All", "Hog In A Mint tea" etc sung by Lascelles Perkins and accompanied by the bassist Boris Gardiner. Add to this "Sly Mongoose", "Wings Of A Dove", "Coolie Gal" and the afore-mentioned "Cut Munu", and you'll pretty well know what is the original Jamaican mento.

There are also many tunes that has got its inspiration from American Western tunes, like in "Head Hunter", "Hopalong Skassidy" and last but not least the amazing party corker "Bonanza Ska", which not only is a hilarious tribute to the Cartwright Family, but also incorporates "Lone Prairie" theme and Rossini's ouverture from opera "William Tell" (also known as Lone Ranger theme) and concludes with a classical style cadenza! Who said that humour doesn't exist in Jamaican music?

All the ska numbers are fine, in addition to Malcolm's own excellent compositions there are some cover tunes, for example South African popular song "Skokiaan" (which is the basis of popular Jamaican riddim African Beat after Bert Camp-fert's version -the pun intended!), Trini Lopez' "Run For Cover", "One Mint Julep" (which sounds it would have been included in a James Bond movie - in fact Carlos composed the Jamaican part of the film Dr. No!!) and "Splanky" - a tune originally recorded by Count Basie's Orchestra and also covered by the deceased Frank Sinatra. Here we get a jazz version faithful to the original arrangement. The second non-Jamaican tune, but Malcolm penned, is the Cuban tune "Viva Zapata", a mambo/son reminiscent of big bands of Cuba, like Orquesta Riverside etc. Interesting for the collectors is the appearance of the hugely acclaimed singer Derrick Harriott in Monkey Man Ska.

Of the instrumentalists the alto sax man Karl Cannonball Bryan shines throughout the record with his punchy solos. He also takes the clarinet sometimes, although not mentioned in the sleeve notes, which are excellent in that usual Jamaican Gold fashion. 24-page booklet includes an interview with Carlos Malcolm (who lives in Miami, retired) and some excellent rare photos, for example a picture of Rico Rodriguez, Don Drummond, Rupert Anderson and Carlos in a serious trombone jam session!

Hey, let's cut the chatter and spin the platter. This album is a must for all the collectors and lovers of Afro-Caribbean music for both educational and entertaining purposes. Just buy it.

Juha Vaahtera

Posted: Sat - February 22, 2003 at 04:46 PM