Selected by Dan Grunebaum

Maxi Priest & Big Mountain

Bluenote Tokyo

As part of its summer Roots Music Festival, the Blue Note Tokyo will be hosting UK reggae star Maxi Priest and US roots reggae revivalists Big Mountain in a double bill tribute to Bob Marley, 20 years after his death in 1981.

Maxi Priest' entry into the music business is the stuff of legend: a carpenter who was asked to build speaker boxes for local reggae sound system Saxon, Priest's honey-toned voice caught their attention and he wound up singing for them in the early '80s.

In 1987, Priest (b. Maxi Elliott) hooked up with crucial Jamaican rhythm section Sly & Robbie for Maxi, an album that catapulted Priest to worldwide fame - due largely to the massive success of a cover of a Cat Stevens song, "Wild World." The singer then sunk into relative obscurity until the release of "Housecall," in collaboration with gruff-voiced MC Shabba Ranks. A similar type of pairing - this time contrasting Priest's smooth lovers rock sound with American dancehall rapper Shaggy's earth-shaking rumble - saw Priest back on top of the charts with "That Girl."

Like Maxi Priest, Big Mountain are latecomers to roots reggae who first popped up on the horizon through a cover song - in their case an unlikely 1994 hit version of '70s idol rocker Peter Frampton's "Baby, I Love Your Way."

Based in San Diego, Big Mountain are led by singer Quino, like Priest one of the smoothest voices in the business. Coming together in the late '80s, the group, while unable to match the success of their first hit, have remained a consistent force in keeping alive the sounds of roots reggae. Appearing at Jamaica's legendary Reggae Sunsplash festivals, they have also, like Priest, recorded with the island's top rhythm section, Sly & Robbie.

Fans of Bob Marley can look forward to an evening that will see his music rendered in the loving hands of two consummate professionals who, while lacking the universal vision of reggae's leading prophet, have him beat hands down when it comes to sheer singing ability.

Maxi Priest & Big Mountain play the Blue Note Tokyo August 13-18. See listings for details.

Concert Listings
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390: Ben Folds
389: Elton John
388: Dido
387: Papa Roach
386: Beast Feast 2001
385: Summersonic
384: David Sylvian
383: Maxi Priest & Big Mountain
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380: Bo Diddley
379: John McLaughlin & Zakir Hussain in Remember Shakti
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375: Marcus Miller
374: Black Crowes
373: Megadeath
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370: Mouse on Mars
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366: Japan Blues Carnival 2001
365: Ben Harper
364: Cheap Trick
363: Stephen Malkmus
362: Mogwai
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359: Green Day
358: AC/DC
357: Richard Thompson
356: Bob Dylan
355: J. Mascis
354: Leigh Stephen Kenny
352/3: Limp Bizkit
351: Boyz II Men
350: Reef
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347: Compay Segundo
346: Incognito
345: Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes
344: Bad Religion
343: Japan Soul Festival 2000
342: Rocktober 2000
341: Richard Ashcroft
340: Motorhead
339: Festival Halou
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336: Asian Dub Foundation
335: Lou Reed
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333: Sting
332: No Doubt
331: Camel
330: Fuji Rock: Smash Talks
329: Summer Sonic
328: Mt. Fuju Aid 2000
327: Salif Keita
326: Buena Vista Social Club
325: Bill Frisell
324: Maxi Priest
323: Lenine
322: Rage Against the Machine
321: Tommy Flanagan Trio
320: Smashing Pumpkins
319: Pet Shop Boys
318: Japan Blues Carnival
317: Gipsy Kings
316: Steely Dan
315: Pshish
314: Big Night Out
313: Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
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310: Speech
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