Eddie Ocampo - Drums Larry McDonald - Percussion Mike Bitz - Bass David Hahn - Guitar Victor Ruggiero- Piano Will Clark- Trombone Jeremy Mushlin- Trumpet
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Tenor and Soprano saxophone player, David Hillyard has just released his debut CD titled 'Playtime' for Hellcat Records. Well known as an outstanding musician and versatile sideman in the outstanding groups he has founded and contributed to, this is his first solo release as a leader. On 'Playtime', the Ska, Reggae and Rocksteady rhythms of Jamaica meet the R&B and Jazz rhythms of America. As Hillyard puts it in the inner sleeve notes, "Over the years I have come to see how music does not so much progress as feed on itself, as different elements of the music are constantly mixed and remixed. After all, it is the mixing of Latin, Mento, R&B and Jazz that created Ska in the first place." This philosophy is put into practice on such tracks as "Playtime" where Jamaican Nyabinghi drumming meets a jazzy Miles Davis-esque waltz; "The Fool", an old time Calypso- Ska romp featuring special guests, Greg lee and Alex Desert of Hepcat on vocals; and "Sidney's Ghost", a New Orleans ska tribute to the legendary soprano saxophonist, Sidney Bechet.
David Hillyard is a current member of The Slackers, one of America's premiere Ska bands based out of New York. His roots go back to 1986 in San Diego, California, where he founded one of the early "third wave" Ska bands, Donkey Show, who did two national tours and had an international hit with their single, "Mr. Brown." After Donkey Show's breakup in 1990 he played with Hepcat, the renowned Los Angeles Ska band, recording on their classic debut CD, "Out Of Nowhere." Leaving Hepcat in 1992, Hillyard moved to New York. Here he joined The Slackers with whom he recorded 3 full length CD's, "Better Late Than Never" (1996), "Redlight" (1997) and "The Question" (1998). He has also become one of the busiest saxophone players in ska music, performing and recording with Rancid, Skinnerbox, Judge Dread, the Stubborn All-Stars and the Version City All-Stars.
The Rocksteady 7 are drawn from an elite group of musicians who are capable of playing in both the Ska and jazz idioms. Percussionist Larry McDonald's history goes back to 1960's Jamaica as well as having done extensive stints with Taj Mahal and Gil Scott-Heron. Trombonist Clark Gayton has performed with everyone from Lionel Hampton and the Mingus Big Band to the Skatalites and Steel Pulse. Trumpeter Roy Campbell is a fixture of the New York City Jazz scene. Pianist Vic Ruggiero, guitarist Dave Hahn and bassist Mike Bitz are among the busiest players in the New York Ska scene performing in such bands as The Slackers, Skinnerbox and Mephiskapheles. Drummer Eddie Ocampo, formerly of the Stubborn All-Stars is regarded as one of the best Ska drummers in the country.