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» GUEST RUNDOWNS » VETERAN SINGER I KONG STRIKES HIGH AND CLEAR WITH NEW ALBUM “A LITTLE WALK”

VETERAN SINGER I KONG STRIKES HIGH AND CLEAR WITH NEW ALBUM “A LITTLE WALK”

I Kong - A Little Walk

From the glorious opening horns of Guiding Light listenersknow they are in for something special.Navavibes sets the stage, and then hear that tenor sound, that ringing voice of the master, I Kong, that crackling high clear tone that carries us through this lovely album, A Little Walk. It is a masterful, clean album both in song and dub. All who love I Kong will want to get it; and if you are not familiar with the Chinese-African, Jamaican-born singer, run out get this album, and get ready for a treat.

Mature artists with a history of music behind them are no less immediate and are due no less attention than a fresh artist on his or her way up. I Kong, when he sings, “We shall live together as one,” backed by a wailing sax on Live as One, displays that sense of unity and sufferation that has marked I Kong’s work for years, yes his singingreignites our memories—but it our current lives that he touches in A Little Walk.

I Kong Is it possible that a man who will be 68 years old this year can still have a voice that pierces with pure high tones and yet carries a sense of emotion, groove, and pain? Yes, believe it and listen to him work in the high register in the song A Little Walk. It is an amazing thing to experience—that after all these years he is better than ever. One has to go back to Gregory Isaacs’ Brand New Me to find another singer so in touch with his art this far along in his career. Has I Kong lost any of his belief in reggae? Listen to the reggae-adoring Groovy Feeling to know that the commitment is still there—and groovy is the word for his phrasing and approach to this chune. As the artist moves into a sweet R&B sound with When I See You Smile, you feel that bluesy line, that romantic side of a master singer.

This album (whose cover has a wonderful portrait by Sil Cunningham) may be as much about dub work as about the singer himself—as most cuts have very fine dub versions with them, such as Guiding Dub and Smiling Dub. Gorgeous instrumentals by Najavibes (with Scully Sims, Dalton Browne, Sting Wray and Rico Gaultier) wind though the songs and the sweet mix of instrument and voice make every cut worth immersing yourself in. Big up to Fruits Records and the recording and mastering teams for excellent production

I Kong is an artist who as a young man went to school with the Abyssinian’s Bernard Collins andDonald Manning, who grew up living Satta Massagana and was a founding member of The Jamaicans, who cut his teeth on Orange Street and is the nephew of Leslie Kong. Instantly recognizable in the days of rocksteady and early reggae because of the Asian cast of his features, our minds have a tendency to see I Kong in historical context. Do not fall into that trap–the living breathing quality of this man now– is what A Little Walk is all about and where our attention is drawn to in this fine important album. The singer of the astounding The Way It Was in 1972 still has it, that soul, that presence, that something that makes singers of reggae music special.

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