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Here I Am

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Album Review

Northern California's Groundation has many of the accoutrements of the typical reggae group, from its syncopated rhythms to the horn charts, which hark back to ska, and including the lead vocals of lyricist/guitarist Harrison Stafford, who has a nasal, reedy tenor reminiscent of Bob Marley at his more hoarse moments. Also, Stafford's words are full of Jamaican patois with references to Biblical passages as filtered through references to Jah and Rasta. But there is lurking within Groundation's music a different impetus that distinguishes it from standard-issue reggae. At the start of "Run the Plan," the opening track on the group's sixth regular album, Here I Am, the musicians launch into what sounds like '70s jazz-rock fusion, if not the middle section of some long song by Traffic. It is only after a while that this abruptly stops and the band obediently lopes into a reggae beat behind Stafford's singing. But that element of jazzy improvisation, or jam band playing, never disappears completely. At any given moment, a song may give way to extended group interaction as the music stretches out and the musicians take off in unexpected directions. While that may keep them from being a classic reggae ensemble, it also seems true to an outfit that does not hail from Jamaica, and it makes them different in a field that can be doctrinaire.


Formed: 1998

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Northern California-based reggae group Groundation were formed by guitarist/singer/lyricist Harrison Stafford, keyboardist Marcus Urani, and bassist Ryan Newman in 1998. The rest of the band personnel has fluctuated. As of 2009, it included a horn section consisting of David "Diesel" Chachere (trumpet), Kelsey Howard (trombone), and Dr. Jason Robinson (saxophone), as well as percussionist Mingo Lewis, Jr. and singers Kim Pommell and Stephanie Wallace. The group's newest member was drummer Te Kanawa...
Full Bio
Here I Am, Groundation
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  • $16.99
  • Genres: Reggae, Music, Jazz
  • Released: 18 August 2009

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