Joe Armon-Jones & Nubya Garcia – Nubya’s Side Of Town

27th March 2024 · 2020s, 2024, Music, Reggae, Uncategorised

Is there a genre called jazz-dub? If there isn’t – or wasn’t – then I think it’s been invented on this tune. I can’t stop playing it.

The artists are a pair of young British jazzers, keyboard maestro Joe Armon-Jones and sax virtuoso Nubya Garcia, and the producer is another Brit, Michael Pelanconi – better known by his stage name Prince Fatty. The rest of the band is made up of Morgan Simpson (drums), Luke Wynter (bass), James Mollison (sax) and the splendidly named Horseman on tambourine.

It’s like a modern take on the ‘horn mix’ you used to get on the B-side of your reggae 12-inches in the ’70s and ’80s – instrumental versions with plenty of brass recorded alongside the vocal version and the dub version.

Some of the best (but not always best known) reggae musicians are/were horn players: trombonists like Don Drummond, Vin Gordon and Rico Rodriguez, sax players like Tommy McCook and Roland Alphonso, and trumpeter Bobby Ellis.

I’m not so sold on the A-side of this tune, which features Hak Baker chatting in a ‘comedic’ manner in a Cockney accent. But this version is fantastic thanks in large part to Prince Fatty’s production.

In the spirit of his idol King Tubby, Pelanconi goes deep in his production style, which he also showcased in a more lovers rock style on Hollie Cook’s first two albums before turning his talents to Lily Allen on her huge-selling album Alright Still.

Armon-Jones, an old Etonian who graduated from Trinity Laban conservatoire in the same class as Nubya Garcia (and Moses Boyd), plays keyboards in her band as well as being a founder member of The Ezra Collective

I know there are those who will be suspicious of an old Etonian plying his tdrade in that famously egalitarian music biz (I jest), but it never did Happyness any harm. Or, for that matter, Frank Turner – or original Deep Purple singer Rod Evans.