By CHRIS PETERSON
You thought ska was getting big. Get ready for some changes. Although a vintage sound, swing is becoming the new rage nationwide, and local band My Man Friday is leading the local rage.
Classified as swing-ska, My Man Friday has become a leader in converging classic Caribbean rhythms of ska with complex big band horn arrangements and jazz flare of swing. The ten-piece band, which includes a full horn section, will be officially releasing its debut CD, “Monkey Business,” Saturday at the Bread Factory.
My Man Friday has been compared to such ska and swing bands as Hepcat and Squirrel Nut Zippers, and has played with the likes of the Skatalites and the Aquabats. In addition to Saturday’s CD release party in Provo, My Man Friday will be playing Friday night with Dave Wakeling of the English Beat at The Holy Cow in Salt Lake.
“Our music starts at traditional Jamaican ska and ends at big band swing,” said Jimmy Thompson, lead singer.
“My Man Friday started two years ago with Corbett Hansen (the bass player) and I fooling around with reggae, ska, swing and a little of whatever else occurred to us during any particular rehearsal,” Thompson said. “It was Caleb Chapman who came along with the idea, about a year ago, to add a horn section and a percussionist and play swing, Latin and revved-up ska.”
The CD’s sixth track, “Cantina Ska,” is a strong example of My Man Friday’s ability to capture the roots of the genres it so easily taps in to.
Leaning more towards the big band sound on “Cantina Ska” and the album’s title track “Monkey Business,” My Man Friday’s horn section takes front and center for the powerful instrumentals on the album. Lead by alto saxophonist Chapman, the horn section creates intricately woven arrangements that come off nontypical in comparison to other ska bands.
“Sassy Girl,” the album opener — as well as the entire album — gives a live, energetic feel which can be difficult to achieve in a recording studio.
Members of the audience at a My Man Friday show can be found either swinging to such classics as “Sing, Sing, Sing,” (re-arranged and called “Swing, Swing, Swing” on the album) or skanking to reggae-based songs like “Lucky Stars.”
“I grew up on reggae and Jamaican ska while the rest of the band all have strong jazz and big band backgrounds,” Thompson said. “When we came together the sound just evolved naturally.”
The debut album is quite impressive and, although not officially released, is selling well at My Man Friday shows.
“This show is going to be a chance for all our old fans and everyone who has been away for the summer to hear the new material and get the long awaited CD,” Chapman said. “For those new to My Man Friday, or ska music for that matter, it’s going to be a great big party.”
The CD release party will start at 9 p.m. and will feature Attaboy Skip from Las Vegas and local bands Love Deluxe and Spies Like Us.
The Bread Factory can only hold a preset number of people so tickets are being pre-sold at CD Warehouse for $5. The Bread Factory is at 480 W. Center St. in Provo. A limited amount of tickets will also be available at the door.