Words by Jesse Serwer—
Now 80 years old, Ernest Ranglin (or Ernest Ranglin O.D. fi di yardies dem) is one of the giants of Jamaican music. His name may not be as recognizable as some of the musicians and artists he’s played alongside (which include Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff and Sonny Stitt, among others) but, with accomplishments spanning mento, ska, reggae and jazz, he is, by most accounts, the most significant guitar player in the island’s history.
Ranglin recently recorded a new album with a trio of considerably younger musicians from South Africa, the U.S. and Israel. The LP, recorded in San Francisco and named for a street there, called Aliva, dropped quietly in August, but was recently featured on an episode of NPR news magazine All Things Considered. Among other nuggets, the show informs us that Ranglin fashioned his first guitar from a sardine can, played on Bob Marley’s first studio session and on Millie Small’s “My Boy Lollipop.” Talk about big man tings! Hear the broadcast here, and sample some tunes from Avila below.