New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble – “Break Thru”

Album Reviews | By on Jul 8th, 2019

Record Label: Brixton Records
Genre: Ska-Jazz
Band Link: newyorkskajazzensemble.com
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“Break Thru” is the 14th (!) studio release by this eclectic ensemble and is one of the ska highlights of the past few years.

If you want to escape for a half an hour into a world of traditional ska, reggae, jazz and reggae then this is absolutely the album for you. Starting things off with a jazzy ska instrumental titled “Chicky Chicky Boom Boom” the vibe is set for your island escape. The title track “Break Thru” is one of my new favorite ska songs as the band rattles off the places that they love to play and spread the joys of ska to around the world. It’s a very positive and uplifting song set to a simple rocksteady beat with a fun chorus of “ska ska skas” that gets me smiling every time.

“Bopicana” follows up next with a hyperactive big band/ska instrumental number that will have any rude boy and rude girl dancing in no time. “Love and Affection” is a traditional ska tune about love and heartbreak that will take you back to the heyday of Studio One with its groove and dancehall vocal stylings. “Blowout” and “Band Aid” are a couple of instrumentals that follow that mix things up with some very fast third wave ska as well as some more classic ska vibes.

One of the surprise gems towards the end of the album is the NYSJE’s ska cover of “Learning To Fly” by Tom Petty. It’s such a perfect track to get the ska treatment and I don’t think that anyone can top this cover.

While I’m usually not a fan of instrumental tracks no matter the genre, “Break Thru” manages to grab my attention with some truly amazing instrumentals topped with some equally amazing vocal tracks. The members of the New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble have been honing their craft in the ska scene for a long time and “Break Thru” is yet another great representation of what they have to offer. If you’re a fan of the Slackers, the Scofflaws or Hepcat and haven’t looked into NYSJE, do yourself a favor and check them out ASAP!

Bottom Line: “Break Thru” is a great mix of instrumental and vocal tracks that covers many Caribbean genres as well as some American sounds to produce one great record.
Notable Tracks: Chicky Chicky Boom Boom, Break Thru, Learning To Fly, Blowout, Love and Affection
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