Count Ossie & The Rasta Family – Man From Higher Heights (2016 Soul Jazz Reissue)
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Soul Jazz Records are releasing Count Ossie & The Rasta Family’s long lost reggae album ‘Man From Higher Heights’ (originally released in 1983), digitally remastered and with full original artwork. This release follows on from the earlier release of Count Ossie and The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari ‘Tales of Mozambique’ (1975), also by Soul Jazz Records.
Recorded in Kingston, Jamaica, somewhere between the last Mystic Revelation album and the 1983 official release of ‘Man From Higher Heights’, it remains unclear whether this album is a mixture of original recordings overlayed with additional players, or Ossie’s post-Mystic Revelation players remaining true to the spirit of Count Ossie (who had died in a car crash in 1976). Either way, it is a fascinating and successful blend of heavyweight Rastafarian roots rhythms and drumming alongside deep jazz improvisation and tripped out psychedelic fuzz guitar.
Count Ossie is the central character in the development of Rastafarian roots music, an almost mythical and iconic figure. His importance in bringing Rastafarian music to a populist audience is matched only by Bob Marley’s promotion of the faith internationally in the 1970s.
Count Ossie’s drummers made the first ever song to integrate Rastafarian traditional music into popular music – The Folkes Brothers’ song ‘Oh Carolina’, recorded for producer Prince Buster in 1959. In 1966 his drummers greeted the arrival of Haile Selassie at Kingston airport. His Rastafarian compound in the hills of Wareika, Kingston, hosted jam sessions between his drummers and Jamaica’s finest musicians, Roland Alphonso, Don Drummond, Johnny Moore and others.
Count Ossie and the Group’s Man From Higher Heights remains one of the most elusive of his highly progressive Rastafarian inspired recordings, the final release in Count Ossie’s career.
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