Four years since their last studio release Groundation returns with an album that is truly groundbreaking in both its musical composition and social content. Taking the sound back to its foundation the group has been rebuilt by lead vocalist Harrison Stafford and features a dynamic set of musicians from both Jamaica and California.
Stafford was eager to get back to creating this unique and dynamic sound which allows musical freedom, exploration and creativity like no other form. Having embarked on several musical projects over the years Groundation remains his first love. Incorporating a unique blend of reggae, jazz and dub, the band has created a global community of fans that continues to grow.
Since the dawn of recorded sound, music can be seen as a giant tapestry to which all musicians lend their creative influence. One band focused on the explosive evolution of this musical ecosystem is Groundation.
“Groundation provides a musical vessel that allows me to create and perform the music that I hear in my head”
Recorded in Prairie Sun Studio in Sonoma County, California, ‘The Next Generation’ (released 21st September via Baco Records), is rooted in the reggae one-drop sound of Jamaica whilst seamlessly incorporating the harmonic, polyrhythmic, and improvisational elements of jazz, breathing new life into both genres. As one critic described it, Groundation begins at the crossroads where Burning Spear meets John Coltrane.
The Next Generation takes off like a rocket, opening with the first ever reggae big band song, ‘Vanity’ (12 horns). Lyrically and conceptually, the album stems from their previous release A Miracle, here shifting from the Mother of Creation to the child, ‘The Next Generation.’
The album takes you on a journey from the militant ‘Fossil Fuels’ and ‘Prophets & Profit’, to the subtle and heartfelt ‘New Life’ and ‘Father & Child’ and everywhere in between. The sound quality is impeccable, engineered by the great Jim Fox and recorded all on analog equipment from the 1970s.
Harrison Stafford’s unique reggae fusion can be heard from villages in Thailand, to the favelas of Brazil, from the mountains of New Zealand, to Moroccan cafes and college dorm rooms in the United States. “Groundation provides a musical vessel that allows me to create and perform the music that I hear in my head”. The sound comes in part from Harrison’s early childhood hearing Duke Ellington and Miles Davis from his grandfather and father who were both Jazz performers. He formalized his musical education at Sonoma State University (SSU) completing a degree in Jazz Performance, where he honed his skills for composing, arranging and producing. After completion, Harrison went on to teach The History of Reggae Music at SSU before embarking on his own musical journey.
Since 1998, Groundation have recorded 8 studio albums and performed in more than 40 countries, sharing the stage with such diverse artists as Jimmy Cliff, Sly and the Family Stone, The Roots, Kanye West, and Sonic Youth. In the past two years alone, Groundation has played shows in nineteen countries spanning four continents. Highlights include playing for over 45,000 fans in Morocco, 10,000 people in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and headlining the mighty SummerJam festival in Germany.
The Next Generation will stand as a testament that Groundation has reclaimed their position as leaders in the search for new original music and that true to form improvisational Reggae/Jazz experience.
Carrying on Groundation’s rich history and the high standards, that were set by the musicians before are; Harrison Stafford (lead singer and guitarist), Will Blades (organ and clavinet/keyboard), Isaiah Palmer (bass player), Jake Shandling (drummer), Brady Shammar (harmony vocalist), Aleca Smith (harmony vocalist), Eduardo Gross (guitarist), Craig Berletti (keyboard & trumpet) and Roger Cox (saxophone).