Album review
In America
Victor Rice
Grover Records
15 - 09 - 2003

Tracking list

  1. The Whip
  2. Fernandinho
  3. Context NYC
  4. Toque
  5. Commit
  6. Fique
  7. The Ring
  8. Parabéns
  9. Drum Thief
  10. Choki
  11. Baby Dub
  12. Neighbors
  13. Lazy River NYC
  14. Context SP
  15. Ring Dub
  16. Lazy River SP
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

Lead Instruments : 4 Backing : 4/5 Production : 4/5 Sound quality : 4 Sleeve : 4

Victor Rice has been one of the most influential producers and musicians in the ska- and reggae- scene during the last couple of years. He is not only well-known in busy New York City, but even in Brasil - where he also has a place of residence - and throughout Europe and especially Germany, where you can get in touch with his works in many ways; either as long-time bass player of The New York Ska Jazz Ensemble or as producer of numerous records, e.g. by Dr. Ring-Ding & The Senior Allstars, who flew him in in 2001 to dub and remix their album "Pick Up The Pieces". His current album "In America" has been written and recorded between 2001 and 2003, in NYC and Sao Paulo/Brasil. He was involved in over 30 albums since 1996 as producer or bassist, for these other bands besides the ones mentioned above, The Stubborn All-Stars, The Scofflaws, Skavoovie & The Epitones, The Slackers and The Toasters. "In America" opens with "The Whip" a nice horns led ska instrumental, followed by the almost jazz ska track "Fernandinho" with a nice rocksteady guitar and Victor Rice not only playing bass and organ, but nice melodica as well. On all tracks the drums are played by Eddie Ocampo, who played live alongside preexisting basslines and songforms on "The Whip", and "Context" both NYC and SP, where in the case of "Fernandinho", "Fique" and "Baby Dub" his drums tracks were copied to fresh tapes and different bass lines and melodies were written and songs created to accomodate and compliment the drums. "Context NYC" is a great instrumental reggae tune, once again featuring the horns of Brian O'Sullivan on trombone, Tony Calarco on tenor sax, Paul Gebhardt on alto sax and Rolf Langsjoen on trumpet, also featured on the stomping ska "Commit". In between these two songs it went back to a melodica melody over a faster reggae track for "Toque" as it does thereafter for the classic roots style organ and melodica led "Fique" and late 60s Upsetters styled "The Ring". "Parabéns" not only features Victor Rice playing vibraphone, but the guitar played in a kind of 60s guitar melody lends to an overall jazzy vibe on this song as well. Some classic 70s style dub backs the haunting organ and melodica on "Drum Thief". The ska tune "Choki" features a wicked violin by Regina Bellantese, wonderful. A great rocksteady dub follows it, using the sweet voice of Caz Gardiner to full effect in "Baby Dub". "Neighbors" is another melodica led uptempo tune, with a nice bubbling organ, before "Lazy River NYC" starts of in an almost avantgarde bleeps and squeeks mixed 30 seconds before giving way to the horns of Stuart Bogey on sax and Aaron Johnson on trombone with some nice piano accents. The Sao Paulo version of the track "Lazy River SP" is a jazzier melodica version, as is the case for "Context SP", which is the jazzier mood melodica version of the third track. "Ring Dub" is the great dubversion of "The Ring", very nice mix of the track. This album is a very nice and balanced set of instrumental ska and reggae, showcasing the talents of Victor Rice as bassist, organ and melodica player, as well as producer. No weak track to be found on this Grover Records album, and hard to pick standout selections. Part of the fun is to compare the NYC and Sao Paulo versions, and discover the niceness each of them lends from the complete different instrumentation. If you got curious and would like to know more about Victor Rice, then click here.