Flat Bridge by Jamaican Saxophonist Dean Fraser

Flat Bridge by Jamaican Saxophonist Dean Fraser

Legendary Jamaican Saxophonist, Dean Fraser, Releases Flat Bridge Album

As a student of Jamaican music, Dean Fraser is passionate about its past as its future. That is the main reason he wanted to record an album of original songs covering the evolution of reggae.

Flat Bridge is that album’s title. Co-produced by the acclaimed saxophonist and Tad Dawkins Jr., it is Fraser’s third album for Tad’s International Record.
“One of the things wi losing in our music is the instrumental vibe. Wi have a sound and a style as a Caribbean people, and we should keep the tradition going,” he said.

It is a tradition started by musicians Fraser looked up to as a young musician, including saxophonist Tommy McCook, keyboardists Jackie Mittoo and Winston Wright and guitarist Ernie Ranglin.

The 13 songs on Flat Bridge were cut at Tad’s International Record’s studio in Kingston, Jamaica in 2020 during the Coronavirus lockdown. The project has input from drummer Sly Dunbar, bass player Flabba Holt, keyboardist Franklin “Bubbler” Waul and guitarist Lamont Monty Savory.
They worked on songs like the title track, Hope Road, I Command You (featuring keyboardist Andrew Marsh) and Zah Zah which highlights the skills of trumpeter Okiel McIntyre.

Fraser said another objective was to showcase younger musicians. He was afforded similar opportunities early in his career by established players like McCook, Bob Marley and Dennis Brown.

“Wi bring these youths forward so the music can continue,” he said.

Dean Fraser is one of the faces of modern Jamaican music. He has played on countless classic songs including Wake up And Live and Trench Town by Marley; Love Has Found its Way and Inseparable by Dennis Brown; Peter Tosh’s Johnny B. Goode; Lift up Your Head by Everton Blender; She’s Royal by Tarrus Riley and That Thing by Lauryn Hill.

That resume has earned him the Order of Distinction from the Jamaican government and a Musgrave Medal from the Institute of Jamaica. Fittingly, in 2020, he was recognised by the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association with its Mentorship Award for his role in nurturing the development of aspiring musicians.

Dean Fraser – Nyabinghi Christmas

Nyabinghi Christmas - Dean Fraser

IT’S beginning to look a lot like Christmas for Dean Fraser. Nyahbinghi Christmas , that is.

That’s the title of the saxophonist’s first Yuletide album, scheduled for release in November by Tad’s International Record. It has 16 Christmas songs, driven by traditional Rastafarian rhythms.

Fraser began production on the instrumental project last year with co-producer Tad Dawkins Jr.

“Nyahbinghi is Jamaican music, an’ I want to bring a new instrumentation to these songs. Wi keep it musical but with a different vibe,” Fraser told the Jamaica Observer.
Some of the popular songs that receive the ‘binghi’ treatment are When a Child is Born, Christmas A Cum (Mi Waa Mi Llama), Long Time Ago, Santa Ketch Up Inna Mango Tree, Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad and Auld Lang Syne.

For the authentic Nyahbinghi feel, Fraser brought in percussionists Congo Billy, Hector Lewis and Denver “Feluke” Smith. The sessions were some of the last for Smith who died in September from colon cancer.

Bassist Mikey Fletcher, guitarists Dario Morgan and Lamont Savory, keyboardist Andrew Marsh and flautist Zoe Mcintyre also played on the songs.
Fraser has done a number of albums, including instrumental tributes to Bob Marley and Dennis Brown. He also played on Christmas albums by other artistes but the thought of doing one for himself never came up until last year.

“I wouldn’t say Christmas is my favourite time of di year; only thing I love about Christmas is di songs…they are well-written and worth listening,” he said.

Written by: Howard Campbell