Shuffle and Bang – Island Bop (Pirates Press Records)

Based around the father-son duo Pops and Korey Horn, Shuffle and Bang is Pirates Press Records’ first foray into the weird and wonderful world of ska-jazz. That’s right punk rockers, but before you spit your cornflakes out, keep reading – you might just like it. If I mention that the musicians involved here have served their time playing with bands such as The Aggrolites, Slightly Stoopid, Brian Setzer Orchestra or Suedehead, you can listen to this guilt-free right?!

If you think back to the roots and toots of ska, it has always had one foot firmly planted in jazz territory. Just listen to some classic Skatalites material for evidence. A couple of decades later and you had a string of bands such as New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble/ Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra/ St Petersburg Ska-Jazz Review/ Rotterdam Ska-Jazz Foundation keeping that tradition going.

The album title sets the scene – when we’re talking about an island I’m not picturing the UK on a cold Winter morning. Instead Shuffle and Bang transports you to a tropical Caribbean that lands you right in the set of a classic Sean Connery era James Bond film. Especially when Pops instructs you to “let the good times roll” – this is prime a martini-sipping tune designed to be played when you are dressed to kill. His baritone vocals add a big dose of 50s style glamour, as he croons his way through the melodies. There is a good balance of instrumentals and vocal tracks on here and that ska-jazz framework gives the instruments plenty of time to shine. This is music designed to be savoured. Don’t be in a rush with this one – sit down, switch off other distractions and let this record wash over you. Tom Chapman

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