grounding They just released their long-awaited tenth studio album, One Rock, via a partnership between French BACO Records and US Easy Star Records. The band, which was formed in 1998 by vocalist/guitarist Harrison Stafford, helped define the roots of American reggae, while building a large following in Europe and South America, where they have been consistently headlining and attracting festivals for years. One Rock keeps their sound and legacy moving forward with 9 intense songs featuring complex arrangements, moving melodies and lyrics that touch on the human condition, the human spirit, and the state of the world. Listen to and buy the album on vinyl, CD, and digital with an exclusive T-shirt here.
In many ways, One Rock can be considered a product of the global pandemic of the past two years. During this period, the grounding became more aware of the issues of selfishness and greed that emerged, which they addressed throughout the record, paying homage to the victims and honoring the many reggae legends who have left us so soon since 2020. So was the group’s desire to honor the “veterans.” In this album clear. Always a group that respects their elders and ancestors, Groundation is making history once again by bringing together legendary reggae groups Israel Vibration, The Abyssinians and The Congos on the fold of the new album.
The relationship with these three teams originated before the formation of Groundation, through Harrison’s long connections that began in his teens, and will continue through years of touring and stage sharing around the world. To carry out this collaboration, Groundation wrote and arranged parts specifically for these unique singers, taking into account their style, range, tone, and phrasing. The original Ridim track was calibrated to accommodate the talent of the Abyssinians and the Israeli vibration. The duo Israel Vibration, made up of singers Wiss and Skelly, are also invited to the heavy groove track “Iron” that closes the album. As for the Congos, who had already appeared on the albums Hebron Gate released in 2002 and Here I Am in 2009, it seemed clear that Groundation was calling them out on “One Rock”.
Typically composed of two guitars, drums, bass, piano, rhodes, B3 organ, three horns and three harmonies, Groundation also welcomes a classic chord treble on this new album. This was a great debut for the band, bringing unique texture and emotion to the album’s first three songs. Tracks like ‘Greed’ and ‘Silver and Gold’ venture into unexplored multi-rhythmic worlds, while ‘Absolutely Clear’ and ‘Day When The Computer Done’ explore new harmonic moves. The song “Market Price” features a piano solo introduction that leads to a frenzied brass arrangement, before turning into a slow, one-meter piece. The song continues to create a world of dichotomy between the cheerful, cheerful musical atmosphere and powerful lyrics that depict the paranoia behind so many world leaders and the millions of people who follow their frenzy. The nine tracks were recorded on 2-inch analog tape at Prairie Sun Studios in Sonoma Country, California.
Stafford formed Groundation in 1998, when he started a reggae/jazz roots fusion group with fellow students in the Jazz Performance Program at Sonoma State University. The group’s first two albums (Young Tree and Every One Teach One) established their unique rooted sound, while also kicking off the band’s long association with core reggae artists, featuring Every One Teach One vocalist Marcia Higgs and drumming master Russ Michael. Stafford’s deep knowledge of the genre of reggae led to the development of a course he was teaching at Sonoma State called The History of Reggae, where culture legends such as Joseph Hill and historical icons such as Abba Melchizadek (Private Secretary of Haile Selassie) share their personal experiences.
In 1999, while in Jamaica, Harrison met legendary engineer Jim Fox, who co-produced several of RAS Records’ most famous releases. Fox reworked Young Tree and Every One Teach One and recorded Hebron’s Gate (2002), the album that launched Groundation to international acclaim. Fox continued to work with the band on each subsequent release, helping shape their sound on We Free Again (2004), Upon The Bridge (2006), Here I Am (2009), Building An Ark (2012), and A Miracle. (2014) Creating a Catalog of Curved, Deep, and Rooted Reggae Music. Likewise, Groundation’s artwork had a consistent look and feel, collaborating with Stafford’s childhood friend, Giovanni Mackie, to create all the visual designs from the start.
Over the years, Groundation has performed in more than 35 countries on 5 continents. The band, which has had a number of personnel changes over the years but has always been built around the leadership of Harrison Stafford, has continued to bring reggae into new worlds, with their last studio album, The Next Generation (2018) opening with a great jazz band. Complete (includes 12 trumpet players). This album beat Ziggy Marley and others to win the Reggae.fr award for “Best Reggae Album of 2018,” voted by more than 16,000 members of the media, musicians, producers and fans. The band has extensive tour and festival dates set for next year in Europe, South America and the USA. Tour dates can be found at https://groundation.com/live.