Julian Marley (SON)


For Julian Marley, music is life, life is music and both are blessings from above. "From a small age music has been there in my life. It's just natural. And it is with the inspiration of the Most High that I create my songs," the artist, a son of Bob Marley, explains. Born on June 4th, 1975 in London, England, Julian's development as a singer/songwriter began when, at age five, he cut his first demo tape, recording a version of his father's classic composition, "Slave Driver," at the Marley family's Tuff Gong studio in Kingston. Since that auspicious beginning, Julian has devoted himself to a life in music, mastering a variety of instruments and writing songs that reflect his dedication to spiritual upliftment and social change.

The 90s were a watershed period for the young artist. During these years, Julian formed his own band (the Uprising band), released a critically acclaimed album (1996's Lion in the Morning, on which he wrote or co-wrote all the songs) and toured the world, both as a solo performer backed by Uprising and as a member of Ghetto Youths International, a musical collective whose core members are Julian and his brothers, Stephen and Damian. Together, Julian and Damian were the opening act for Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers' 1995 US tour and featured artists in 1997 on the rock-oriented Lollapalooza festival tour. Julian also assisted his brother Stephen with production on 1999's platinum selling Chant Down Babylon and, along with Spragga Benz and Marley siblings Stephen, Cedella, Damian and Ky-Mani, contributed an inspired version of "Master Blaster" to the 2003 Stevie Wonder tribute album, Conception.

Julian's newest offering, A Time and Place is an organic fusion of rootical reggae and breezy jazz sounds that represent the next milestone in his artistic path. "Coming from Lion in the Morning," Julian explains, "I have more knowledge and I'm growing. And this is a very personal album. A lot of it came from reasoning with brethren. We would converse about a situation and just start writing from there." The thirteen tracks are, as the artist himself says, "very much of the time. If you check it out right now, most of the music out there is about bling blings and crazy things. My songs are to be taken as wake up calls."

Each song is built on a solid foundation of traditional reggae but contain a wide range of influences, showcasing Julian's natural love of music. "Harder Dayz" is a buoyant hip hop-oriented track that samples the famous trumpet riff from his father's song, "Natty Dread." " Build Together" (with its battle cry refrain of "it grieves their hearts/ to see I and I together"), "Systems" and "Couldn't Be the Place" are classic, hard-driving reggae anthems in the style of such legends as Burning Spear, Jacob Miller and Bob himself. The reggae-funky "One Way Train," demonstrates Julian's freestyle scatting prowess, the samba-tinged "Sunshine" is a Latin-Caribbean love song and "Sitting in the Dark" recalls the golden age of Jamaican ska. On the other end of the spectrum and effortlessly channeling a progressive 70s groove, is "Summer Daisies." Powered by flute, horn section and wah-wah guitar, the tune urges spiritual awareness on a universal level.

As is the case with all Marley projects, A Time and Place is truly a family affair. "The album features production by myself, Stephen and Damian, with Stephen coming with the overhand for everything," Julian says. Brothers Ziggy and Rohan play percussion on "Where She Lay" and Bunny Wailer contributes percussion to "Father's Place." Julian also acknowledges the Uprising band's contribution. "The band has evolved over the past few years with members changing, but its core has remained with the same rootical bassman, Owen 'Dready' Reid, which is great." Dready and the rest of the group will be on the road with Julian as he tours in support of the new album.

For Julian Marley, music transcends labels. "It all comes down to listening and loving music," the artist reasons. "If you love music, any kind of music, it just comes through you. We love blues and jazz and all kinds of music. It just filters through you."

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