New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble
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New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
Band Jazz Reggae


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"Rototom Sunsplash 2010 in Benicassim, Spain"

After 16 years celebrating the biggest festival for reggae music in Europe, this year's edition has moved to Benicassim, Spain.

The biggest European reggae music festival, Rototom Sunsplash, started yesterday for the first time in Benicassim, Spain. With live performances like those of New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble, a band from New York formed by musicians from all around the world, like the guitar player Alberto Tarin.

Tarin is a live legend of Latin and Jamaican guitar styles, that has been playing with Santana and other musicians along his extensive music career, apart from a solitary project that has released one of the best reggae documentaries in DVD, called Living Reggae.

The New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble played an emotional show, with a compact sound and really fresh, playing some of their classics and an advance of three tracks from their imminent new record that will be released at the end of the summer.

As Freddie Reiter (saxophonist and singer and alma mater of the band) said to the streaming radio of the festival, the aim of the band is playing as much as possible, for as many people from as many countries as possible, make good music and be respected for it, and living a nice life. As he said, after many years of music and many different musicians in the band, he has realised that the most important thing is the element of the Jamaican rhythm (the classic 'riddim').

Riddim consists on a reinforcement of the bass line that "is what get people dancing", and as Freddie said, "When people dance, I am happy", with the jazz, the rocksteady and the funk as a top-up over this base.

The Rototom festival, has been developed for 16 seasons in Italy and now is based in Benicassim, Spain. The band said that it was a pleasure to play there and an opportunity to see live other artists like Anthony B or Pablo Moses. -

"New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble to heat up Beachcomber Caribbean Social"

by Jesse Reilly

Just weeks after a tour in Europe and appearances in Japan, the New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble is making a stop in Blue Bell for the Beachcomber Swim Club’s first, and hopefully annual, end-of-the-summer social Aug. 29.

With a Caribbean vibe theme, Beachcomber Manager Keith Barnes said the internationally renowned band will add some flavor.

“When these guys start to play, it’s like lighting a fuse,” he said. “Their harmonies are incredible and they play the tastiest licks of music.”

With members hailing from Ghana to London, the band is able to create a unique fusion of ska, reggae and jazz.

“It’s almost like a fine wine,” “Rock Steady” Freddie Reiter, the ensemble’s saxophonist, said. “It’s not that we’ve all aged, but we’ve all had so many different experiences that make our music that much more interesting, our backgrounds and cultures enhance our sound in a big way.”

With roots in American jazz, Caribbean beats and rhythm and blues, ska was the precursor to reggae and originated in Jamaica in the 1950s.

“It’s party music, it’s dance music,” Reiter said. “Even though we’re a ska and jazz band, we really have a rock ‘n’ roll mentality. We have a fast tempo and play aggressively.”

Well-received overseas and touring in Europe two to four times a year, Reiter says he and the band try to get to the East Coast as much as they can.

“We play this area fairly often, depending on the quality of the gigs we receive,” he said, adding that they are looking forward to appearances in Brooklyn and Boston in the fall. “I want to play here as much as I can.”

Even though the touring schedule can get grueling and the music industry isn’t the most stable profession, Reiter said for the members of his band, there almost isn’t a choice.

“I don’t want to sound cliché, but it’s almost like music is in my chemistry, it’s in my soul,” he said. “After all these years, I still think about when I’m going to practice when I wake up.”

And on those nights when it’s hard to get onstage, Reiter said he only feels that way until he sees the crowd.

“Sometimes on the 31st night of touring, you’re not feeling [too excited about it], but then you see people dancing and going nuts and that’s all you need,” he said. “The audience’s energy always brings me up.”

And it’s his passion fused with his fans’ energy that keeps the musician going with no signs of slowing down.

“We’re going to Greece for the first time in January and are very excited about that. We’re opening new territories and that’s always pretty great,” he said, adding that in addition to touring, the ensemble will start to record a new CD some time this year.

“We’re just trying to rock as many people as we can,” he said.

Although playing in front of thousands of screaming fans in Tokyo is much different from playing in front of 150 at the Montgomery County club, Reiter said he believes a gig is a gig.

“It’s definitely going to be fun. I was down with it from the beginning,” he said, adding that it is always exciting playing for new audiences. “We play good music and all we need are bodies there that enjoy music.”

Performing on a makeshift stage at the front of the club’s pavilion, encircled by large trees, Barnes said the show will be a unique experience.

“People will rarely have an opportunity to see a band like this in this setting,” he said. “They’re always in front of thousands of people.”

But, in the pavilion, that will be adorned with twinkling lights and palm trees, those going to the show will be several feet from the members.

“It’s just going to be a great night to come out, have something to eat and hear great music under the stars,” Barnes said, adding that even when the tunes fade around 9 p.m., the bonfire will just be getting under way.

“People will be able to roast marshmallows and just sit around, talk and have a good time,” he said. - Montgomery News (Blue Bell, PA, USA)

"Review: New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble "Live in Europe""

Recorded over almost two years and in three countries, the NYSJE's live offering provides an overlook of some of this premiere ska band's finest moments. Scintillating horn solos crafted around finely constructed songs mix seamlessly in with organs, the occasional vocal singing and a tight, professional rhythm section. Representing why the band enjoys tremendous cross-genre respect (having now become mainstays at large jazz festivals), Live in Europe's sole shortcoming is its length; at clocking in at a mere 40 minutes, it offers only a taste of what can be expected from their performances. Nevertheless, what we have is of the highest calibre. Fred Reiter has never made a flute sound more intense or sexy as he has on "Elegy," while covers of songs by Thelonius Monk ("I Mean You") and Laurel Aitken ("More Whisky") shows the elasticity good ska can achieve without diluting its mass appeal. The NYSJE have consistently produced music for sophisticated listeners and their live act has always represented this. To have it on a CD, which begs for repeated listening, given both the outstanding qualities of the songs and the diverse range that the band stretches, is a gift well worth having. -


"Live in Paris" 2009 Ska Jazz Productions

"Step Forward" 2008 Ska-Jazz Productions (US),Brixton Records (Spain)

"NYSJE Collection 1995-2004" 2005 Megalith Records (US)

"Skaleidoscope" 2005 Megalith Records (US), 2005 Brixton Records (Spain), 2005 Mosaic (France / Belgium)

"Minor Moods" 2003 Megalith (US), 2003 Brixton Records (Spain), 2003 Alternativa (Italy)

"Properly" [3-song EP] 2001 Grover Records (Germany)

"Live in Europe" 2000 Moon Ska Records (US), 2000 Grover Records (Germany), 2001 Stomp Records (Canada)

"Get This" 1998 Moon Ska Records (US)
1998 Grover Records (Germany)

"Get This! Ska Jazz Blue" 1996 Moon Ska (US),1996 Tachyon Records (Japan)

"Low Blow" 1996 Moon Ska Records (US), 1996 Grover Records (Germany)

"New York Ska Jazz Ensemble" 1995 Moon Ska Records (US), 1996 Karatula (Spain), 1998 Grover (Germany)



The NEW YORK SKA-JAZZ ENSEMBLE is known internationally as the pioneer group of ska-jazz. Their style has been imitated from St. Petersburg, Russia to San Juan, Costa Rica and they remain an integral part of the ska and reggae music scene. Performances playing to ska and jazz fans alike generate an excitement and dance fever that attract audiences of all ages. Their venues range from the North Sea Jazz Festival in Den Haag to the Knitting Factory in New York City.

Since its inception, the band has released eight studio albums, two live albums, a live concert DVD and numerous tracks on ska and reggae compilation albums. NYSJE recordings have received critical acclaim for their high energy creative original tunes and kinetic ska interpretations of jazz standards as well as a potent mix of dance hall reggae, rock steady and jazz. Many notable musicians can be heard on NYSJE albums including Tommy McCook, Sharon Jones and members of Hepcat and the Skatalites. NYSJE continues to write and record new music and will release its ninth studio album in June, 2011.

The band was founded in 1994 by "Rocksteady Freddie" Reiter and Rick Faulkner with members of the Skatalites, the Scofflaws and the Toasters. They got together in order to stretch out musically, embracing jazz harmony and extended improvisation within the ska and reggae style. An all-star ska group including Jonathan McCain, Devon James, Cary Brown, and Victor Rice was formed. Their first performance at the Manhattan Center in New York City to a packed house was a huge success. This led to widespread gigs and tours throughout the United States, Europe, South America, Japan, Canada, and the Caribbean. The current band continues to perform and tour extensively. In 2010 the New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble toured Europe six times, including two national tours of Spain.

A detailed history can be obtained by contacting us.