Review: Jimmy Cliff Live at Sonos Studios

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From KCRW Communications Director Alyssa King:

Photo by Emma Gault

A respectful crowd in awe of sharing an intimate space with a music legend celebrated the debut of Sonos Studios last night, with a set of music from Jimmy Cliff. Built with sound quality in mind, the 4,000-square-foot studio/gallery hybrid boasts slanted walls and foam tiles and will host a variety of artists.

Photo by Hadas

“I’m inspired all the time, from just living my life,” declares Cliff. Music journalist Eric Ducker asked Jimmy a series of questions as they played through some of his new tracks from his forthcoming album “REBIRTH”.

Photo by Hadas

How does a reggae legend end up working with punk rock icon and producer Tim Armstrong? Mutual friend Joe Strummer of The Clash. But, according to Jimmy, the relationship between reggae and punk music isn’t actually that different. He believes the socio political expression is the same between punk rock and reggae – both have roots stemming from being “anti-establishment”.

It also helps that Tim had the qualities that Jimmy looks for in a producer.  And what would that be? “Sensitivity to me [and] what I like to do. Someone who wants to bring out what is in me, who can see what is in me and brings out something I might not see,” said Jimmy.

Photo by Hadas

Jimmy finished out the evening with an acoustic set, belting out a mix of familiar and unheard songs. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s voice is as strong as ever, evidenced when he belted out an a capella version of “Cry No More” a new ballad on “REBIRTH” that recreates a vintage, reggae sound.

What keeps Jimmy’s voice sounding so good? Positivity. “[I] try to be as positive as I can as a person.” And at 64-years-old, it looks like positivity might be the golden ticket.

— Alyssa King