Ernest Ranglin

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As one of ska’s prime architects, Ernest Ranglin’s jazz-by-way-of Jamaica heritage is as deep as the Caribbean Sea. On Surfin’, the 73-year-old Ranglin’s 13th solo outing, the pioneering Studio One ace plays with a sass and fluidity that guitarists half his age would—or should—envy. Ranglin navigates the rock-solid grooves with cat-like dexterity, as his lines are at times playfully off-the-cuff, and at others simply deadly, balancing flurries of notes with funky and occasionally angular chord-melody excursions. Ranglin sounds like nobody else, and his playing exudes a sense of joy and excitement every time he peels off a lick. That’s something for all of us to strive towards, don’t ya think? (Telarc) —Darrin Fox