Harder They Strum
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Andy Bassford, born in Hartford, Connecticut, is the reggae legend you've never heard of. After initially playing several years in rock, reggae, latin jazz, and country bands, he then was discovered by Horace Andy, which led to his recording debut on the classic album 'In The Light' in 1977. In 1980 he went to Jamaica and began playing on sessions with the Roots Radics. Soon after he joined Lloyd Parks and We The People, thus performing or recording with nearly every reggae artist of the era, most notably Dennis Brown. Upon his return to the US in late 1980's he joined Toots and the Maytals among many others and became the house guitarist for the seminal Studio One label. Currently, Andy performs internationally in Jamaican pianist Monty Alexander's Harlem-Kingston Express reggae-jazz fusion project, with whom he has also recorded two albums. In 2003, he was honored by the Jamaica Federation of Musicians for Outstanding Contributions to the Jamaican Music Industry, one of the only-non Jamaicans to receive this award. In 2019 he won a Grammy as composer / guitarist on Sting & Shaggy's "44/876" album. "The Harder They Strum" is Bassford's first solo album, and pays homage to the movie and album that lured Andy into the wonderful world of Jamaican music. It's a song by song remake of the world famous soundtrack, of the ten original vocal tracks six are turned into guitar instrumentals, and the rest come with vocal parts from New Kingston and Soul Sisters Six. Other notable guests on the album include Monty Alexander, Mikey Chung, Kevin Bachelor, Larry McDonald, Bret Tubin and many more. Andy explains his reasons for recording the album: "My idea was to pay homage the original versions while allowing me to improvise and elaborate on them... I wanted it to reflect my personal and musical values all the way through, from start to finish... I also wanted to document the musical relationships and friendships I've developed over my career."