Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
rob + = email

2018 November 19 • Monday

The 544th Soundtrack of the Week is Melba Liston's music for Smile Orange, and it's on groovy orange vinyl!

The first side of the record starts with the main title theme, a sunny reggae tune with great saxophone and trombone playing.

After this comes "Peacock", which somehow manages to merge a reggae groove with some almost Glenn Miller-style horn parts and interesting guitar and bass lines that give the piece an unusual rhythmic complexity.

"Blue & Green" keeps the reggae feel going and throws organ into the mix. It sounds a bit like Jackie Mittoo. It's a short piece that sounds like something that might have been in the background.

Things take a turn for the heavier, the more rocking, the acid-tinged in "Bella", where the reggae guitar and drums veer into more backbeat territory at times and an overdriven guitar trades lines with the organ. There's a grave and possibly menacing tone to this track, which is one of the strongest on the album.

The side closes with the only vocal number, ""Ringo Smith", which is sung by Marilyn Curtis. It's basically the same tune as "Bella" but with Curtis's reverb-drenched voice calling out "Ringo" in a haunting and ethereal way.

The B side opens with the aptly titled "Jamaican Organ Solo", though the main voice at first is, what, melodica maybe, with organ backing and some strange sound effects.

After that, another sunny reggae tune bursts out of the speakers. "Bus Boy" has another killer groove and a cool melodic line for the horns with some tasty organ playing.

The opening of "Michelle" sounds like it's going to be a really cool take on "Night and Day" but then it goes into a fairly typical jazz guitar piece with walking bass line and, in a nice touch, what sounds like only congas and a cymbal as the percussion.

Next up is "Rhumba" which might be a rhumba. It sounds like calypso to me but I'm no expert. The percussion is another highlight and the electric guitar has a nice sound. It's a light and lively tune.

"Julie Janet and Joyce" is a startling change of pace and mood, an aggressive and punchy 9/4 composition with sharp staccato tones and energy. (Maybe this is 9/8 instead of 9/4. I can't really tell. It seems to me like it could go either way.)

The record ends with a very pretty tune, "Jamaica", the only one to feature flutes, which almost sound like a heavenly choir. They float above another deep reggae groove and it's a lovely and enchanting combination.