In the last months Ben King's Amsterdam Earth Works Studio was still located at its original location at the Nijverheidslaan 28 in Weesp, the studio was clearly running to capacity with Roots Unity producer Uta Maruanaya working overtime. After his collaboration with Jamaican vocalist Nga Han, he also took on the challenge of producing the debut album of The Higher Notes and a dub release by The RAW Rhythm Section.
The idea to form The Higher Notes rose after ex-The High Notes keyboardist Ras P, multi-instrumentalist and producer Uta Maruanaya together with Dutch music veteran Jan Kooper aka King Kooper, multi-instrumentalist and a much sought-after session and live musician, were hanging out together after doing recording sessions for The RAW Rhythm Section, a project they were all also involved in, got talking and soon discovered they shared a common musical taste. As the title suggests, with this long player debut, the band wants to make a double salute: on the one hand to ska and the rocksteady, the foundations of contemporary Jamaican music, genres in which musicians and arrangers like Tommy McCook, Ronald Alphonso and Jackie Mittoo and producers like Duke Reid, Coxsone Dodd and Prince Buster played pioneering roles, and on the other hand to the orchestral jazz sound of the nineteen fifties, given shape by jazz musicians and bandleaders like Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. The resulting album contain in 11 instrumental gems, all self-written compositions with the exception of 'Solitude', a reinterpretation of Duke Ellington's 1941 jazz classic of the same name, and 'Smoke Rings', originally a 1933 hit for vocal quartet The Mills Brothers, but written by American jazz banjo player and arranger Harold Eugene Gifford. No idea what Rude Rich thinks of The Higher Notes, but we enjoyed 'Double Salute' to the fullest!
Before there was The Higher Notes, The RAW Rhythm Section was already recording at Earth Works Studio. We already got to know this collective, including the aforementioned Ras P, King Kooper and Uta Maruanaya, but also British drummer Bunnington Judah, French keyboardist Arthur 'Art-Man' Diop and Dutch bass player Biko, thanks to Nga Han's 'The Living Stream, Chapter One' album. Apart from collaborations with artists like the aforementioned Nga Han, Hornsman Coyote, Gregg Green, Clive Matthews and Danny Kalima, in 2016 there was already the 4 track 'Shepherd' EP, and in 2017 the band released 'Salute Volume 1: Instrumentals', two releases you may consider demo experiments. 'Officially RAW: The RAW Rhythm Section In Dub, Volume One' is the band's first full-fledged live-dub release, featuring 10 very solid compositions, with 'Domino Dub', featuring melodica accents and nyahbinghi percussion, standing out from the rest of the tracks.