Groundation take roots reggae to higher places
Groundation are a nine-piece American reggae band whose sound has been described as "Burning Spear meets John Coltrane", that’s to say they master two very different musical genres of black music. The band's roots are in jazz but they use it to take reggae to new places.
“It’s our job to take it from the roots, up into the branches and make new leaves and make new life out of the music,” says guitarist and lead vocalist Harrison Stafford. The band wants to “make people think different about the possibilities of music”.
While they are based in California, Groundation's music is closely connected to the roots of Jamaican reggae. The band has collaborated with reggae elders like Don Carlos, Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace, Pablo Moses and The Congos.
Their latest album A Miracle features Jamaican heavy-weights Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt from the I Threes, vocalists with Bob Marley in the 1970s.
Groundation has taken up reggae music's commitment to changing unjust social systems.
The song Freerider rails against rulers who refuse to hand over power: “Ain’t gonna be no Napoleon who come and spread empires. In Africa it kills more than cholera, old men who rule like Caesar.”
But this seventh studio album is arguably the band’s most positive to date.
“The album is livicated to the female spirit, to the Empress,” says Harrison, “looking at life as a beautiful thing of endless possibilities.”
Miracles like childbirth, being born again and of course the composition of music.
Groundation are in concert at Le Trianon in Paris on 9 and 10 November.