Pablo Moses is a force of nature. Like a magnificent rock that withstands anything time wants to chuck at it. He was born in the tiny rural village of Plowden, southern Jamaica, in 1953, and it is as if he has always been nourished by its generous sap. The humility, spirituality and humanism which define his music may also have been drawn from this remote place nestled in the heart of the countryside. The Rasta journey that he holds dear to his heart appears to have begun on these hillsides. More than just a Reggae star, his unique voice has been heard on many international stages for over forty years. The Itinuation (Grounded Music), his new album co-produced with Harrison Stafford, one of the mainstays of Groundation, confirms his dedication to taking a positive attitude to life. At the same time, this compilation is his long-awaited comeback album.
Pablo Moses’ journey has not been like the flow of a long, peaceful river. Following a childhood being shuffled back and forth between Jamaica and the United States, he finally settled permanently in Kingston. At the time, the capital was throbbing to the beat of Ska and Rocksteady. However, Pablo Moses’ taste and ear were more inclined to the sound of Ray Charles, Otis Redding, and Nat King Cole. He was driven by the thought of creating his own musical style, based on jazz and blues. He learnt how to play guitar in his neighbourhood of Vineyard Town alongside musician Michaël Chung, who went on to introduce him to his brother Geoffrey, a future record producer and recording engineer. In 1975, this meeting led him to Black Ark studios, run by dub supremo Lee Scratch Perry, where he recorded I man a Grasshopper followed by We should be in Angola. These two tracks ended up on Revolutionary Dream. This first album was recorded in Jamaica despite being censored by the authorities, who ostracized Rasta music since it advocated smoking weed and urged Jamaicans to peacefully collaborate with separatist rebels in Angola.
The brilliant success of Revolutionary Dream spread like wildfire to America and England, and Pablo Moses became all the rage. After spending some time at the Jamaican School of Music to hone his musical skills, he recorded A Song (1980), and Pave the Way (1981) with Island Records, a label owned by Bob Marley’s producer, Chris Blackwell. These tracks, produced once again by Geoffrey Chung, rocketed to the top of the hit parade. Moses had both made it onto the international stage and into the tight circle of Reggae greats. He continued his solo career away from the legends in his profession, brought out six albums, and then stopped recording for fifteen years, while still working non-stop. In 2010, The Rebirth was finally released, its title clearly referring to his own artistic renaissance. It is a sensational counterpart to his latest album, The Itinuation.
«Harrison is like my son» says Pablo Moses. «Pablo? He’s an elder, a dad!» quips Harrison. The two have known each other for over ten years and their mutual esteem is palpable. When the young Californian was invited to co-produce this Jamaican legend he was thrilled and set about gathering the cream of Jamaican musicians with an eye to excellence: Nambo Robinson and Dean Fraser on brass, Robbie Lyn on keyboards, Harry T Powell on percussion, Desi Jones on the drums, Danny Axeman Thompson on bass and Dalton Browne on guitar... The perfect line-up to showcase Pablo Moses’ exceptional voice, and his pipes have never sounded as powerful as they do now. This high-flying team also served another purpose for Harrison Stafford: bringing different grooves together to «sprinkle new flavours into the mix».
Recorded at Mixing Lab studios in Kingston and pro- fessionally mastered by American supremo Jim Fox, The Itinuation journeys through Reggae history, from Lover style (I love U), all the way to Nyabinghi (Thanks Jah Jah). Written by four hands - Harrison composed four tracks – they ooze the serenity and complicity of the studio sessions that brought them to life. True to his Rasta philosophy, Pablo Moses denounces the violence and corruption of the system (Living in Babylon, Murder, In This Jungle), racism and wars engineered in the name of capitalism, and those who follow fashions and dictates like sheep (You and Me). To Pablo Moses, the only right path is the one which honours righteousness, tolerance and resistance (Attitude, Open Your Minds, Mercy, Lioness). «My only religion is love, human rights and justice for all» whispers Pablo Moses.