Was Catch a Fire an album that had a real impact on you?
“Yes, massive. It was an amazing album, the first time a reggae album had gone mainstream.
At that time, I was listening to Marvin Gaye and the likes, but the impact that album had on me was extraordinary.
I was around in 71 or 72 when Bob and the Wailers came over to tour. I feel like it’s part of my history now as Chris Blackwell from The Wailers was living in Neasden where I’m from. They were a group I admired immensely and then the album came out and it was so brilliant and so ahead of its time.” How did this collaboration come about?
When Dune Music said they were getting some musicians together for the Lively Up!
Festival, I jumped at the chance. As I’d worked with the Jazz Jamaica lot before, I thought it would be a great thing to do. Having a 30- piece orchestra perform it just takes the album to a whole new place. I think if Bob heard it, he would absolutely love it! We’re touring a good cross-section of the country and I’m sure it will wow them just like it has me. When everyone hears the tracks arranged so differently, it will be a real treat. It’s going to be amazing.”
What does the 50th anniversary of Jamaican Independence mean for the people you work with out there?
“Well they’re the talk of the world at the moment, Usain Bolt has done a great deal for Jamaica, that’s for sure. Over there, they’re all waiting to see if The Queen knights him.
They are still part of the Commonwealth after all. That would be one for Bob as well I think. I remember for the 40th anniversary we did a concert for Radio 2 and there was a great vibe among all the musicians. This one is going to be even bigger!”
What do you consider to be the highlights of your career so far?
“There have been many things and I hope there will be many more to come.
Meeting Nelson Mandela was a great moment.
And there was singing with Stevie Wonder. We did something for his birthday with Cyndi Lauper, Paul Young, Chaka Khan and Tears for Fears. We did his version of Happy Birthday for him at Wembley.
“That was pretty special.”
Which other projects are you currently working on?
“A really important project to me right now is Urban Jungle, my first solo album. It should be released just before the end of the year, in time to plan a tour for the spring.
u Catch a Fire – A Tribute to Bob Marley and the Wailers by Jazz Jamaica All Stars and Urban Soul Orchestra featuring Brinsley Forde is at Southampton Guildhall tonight.