Alpha Boys School: Music In Education 1910 - 2006
Trojan Records
February 1, 2006

Track list
  1. Blue Lou - Bertie King
  2. Just Friends - The Joe Harriott Quartet
  3. Now's The Time - Dizzy Reece And His Quintet
  4. Wilton's Mood - Wilton 'Bogey' Gaynair
  5. Eastern Standard Time - Don Drummond
  6. Rocket Ship - Tommy McCook
  7. Safari - Raymond Harper
  8. The Dirty Dozen - Vin Gordon
  9. Soul Voyage - Lester Sterling
  10. Pure Soul - Lennie Hibbert
  11. Tribute To Sir Alex - Johnn 'Dizzy' Moore
  12. James Ray - Bobby Ellis
  13. Soul Pipe - Karl 'King Cannonball' Bryan
  14. The Warrior - Johnny Osbourne
  15. Hot Coffee - Hedley 'Deadly' Bennett
  16. Rainbow Into The Rio Mino - Rico Rodriquez
  17. Skankey - Leroy 'Horsemouth' Wallace
  18. Leaving Rome - Jo Jo Bennett
  19. Sea Breeze - Cedric 'Im' Brooks And David Madden
  20. The Hipster - Harold McNair
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : - Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 5
At last, the long awaited Alpha collection. The last few releases from Trojan have been somewhat pedestrian -- perhaps the proverbial end of the year "pot boilers", so it's a pleasure to see this beautifully thought out project on the market at last. And it is also a pleasure to hear so many fresh tracks -- and not the usual recycling of the (albeit excellent) Trojan back catalogue.

The album follows a definite progressive pattern -- moving from rather conventional jazz to Afro Cuban influenced meditative introspection, then onto upbeat Ska with a very slight touch of early roots styles with brittle and taut African percussion.

The first three tracks by Bertie King, Dizzy Reece and Joe Harriott represent a surprisingly traditional, overtly orthodox jazz approach, and it is only when we reach the third track that the bass begins to resonate with that sense of Kingston roots threat. But it is still very traditional, though more sombre than the first two tunes. These early tracks are somewhat reminiscent of early Charlie Mingus and Coltrane compositions.

Don Drummond and Tommy Mcook take us firmly into more familiar territory with their insane Ska rhythms. The Raymond Harper composition "Safari" gets more serious, sounding like early Ray Barretto and Chico Hamilton rhythms supported by a pummelling thug bass. There are shades of the Impulse Chico Hamilton album "The Dealer" in evidence here. Jo Jo Bennet and Vin Gordon add some heated soul to the proceedings, whilst Lester Sterling adds some hooligan rude boy rhythms. Deadley Headley makes a beautiful meditative contribution with "Hot Coffee", hinting at the more spacious Pharaoh Sanders - like tones he would go on to showcase in his work with Bim Sherman and ONU Sound, decades later in early 80's.

It's a beautifully realised project, from its sleeve design, to its meditative -- yet decidedly upbeat -- choice of rhythms. (There are very few of the more darkly melancholy Don Drummond style grooves in evidence here, which, to some may prove to be an arguable downside/let down of this album and its selection however.)

This record will surely prove to be a firm favourite amongst the seriously committed Ska, Blue Note, Afro Cuban and Impulse label jazz addicts worldwide.