When I was in college, I started following God shortly into my freshman year. Somewhere between then and the summer of that year, I discovered Christian reggae. So all summer long, on Frances Street in Madison, Wisconsin, my room mates and I blasted the sounds of Christafari, Nothing to Dread, and Temple Yard toward the crowds on State Street. And when we had listened to the few reggae albums we had so much that our ears couldn’t take even one more song, we popped ’em back in and listened some more.
I fell in love with the bass-driven reggae sounds – a perfect mixture of challenging, almost politically-charged lyrics and island grooves. Unfortunately, though, my budget was limited and my connections were few, so the handful of reggae CDs I owned received a lot of airtime in our little apartment.
Solomon Jabby is one of those reggae guys I wish I had known about back that summer.
Solomon Jabby, born Peyton Ritter just under 34 years ago, has released 2 full-length dub albums before his latest album Firmly Planted, which features vocals for the first time. He has spent the last decade or so producing and performing reggae music in forms as diverse as roots, ska, rocksteady, and dub. He plays all the instruments on his albums, including drums, bass, guitar, keys, organ, percussion, melodica, sax, knobs, and delays. Whew! Take a breath now. Besides all this work of releasing his own albums, he’s also been with Christafari since 2005, playing guitar and percussion. He’s got quite a record for just one guy doing music mostly on his own.
Now, I’m no reggae expert, but I do play one on TV. No, really, I know the difference between roots and ska, I know how to grow dreadlocks, and I know what “jah” means, but I don’t really know much about reggae, so I won’t go into all that.
I do know what I like though, and I like Solomon Jabby. I’ve listened to a lot of reggae, mostly Christian stuff, either from albums I’ve bought or on internet radio, and I like Solomon Jabby a lot. I even like him better than Christafari, with his simpler, more “old school” reggae sound. He’s stripped the music form down to what makes it cool – the reggae sound without all the added post-production stuff. I can’t get enough of it.
According to GospelReggae.com, “Once upon a time, on a small Caribbean island far, far away, producers and engineers dared to stretch the limits of reggae music. It was an era when there were no rules, no formulas, and no corporate deadlines–just musical creativity in its purest form. Like the dub pioneers before him, on his recordings, Solomon Jabby has embarked on his own journey into the realm of free musical expression, inspired by his love of the genre and his relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Now, what about that name? In an interview here, Solomon Jabby explains that his full reggae name “Solomon Jabby the Dub Revelator” came as a result of trying to come up with something similar to his musical predecessors King Tubby and Prince Jammy, but, he says, “I didn’t want to crown myself” like they did. Somewhere along the way, he came up with Solomon Jabby. He added “the Dub Revelator” because he “wanted to be an artist who reveals and reflects Jesus Christ through music and life.”
Though I recommend checking out all of Solomon Jabby’s albums, if you can only get one, get his vocal album Firmly Planted (though the dub albums are excellent too). According to his MySpace, the album “proves what a modern artist can achieve when he finds the balance between past and present. Solomon has successfully found a way to stay true to the 70’s reggae vibe while simultaneously pushing the art of roots and dub to higher heights.” It really does draw on the 70’s sound without seeming like an outdated copy.
Below you will find two of my favorites from Solomon:
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