Free Joseph

World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean


Free Joseph
Speaking In Tongues
Far Island Vision FIVD003
By Judson Kilpatrick

Published October 28, 2005

Ironically, considering the title, this set is completely instrumental. It features reggae singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Fitzroy “Free” Joseph playing flute over dub versions from his forthcoming vocal album Believers And Non Believers. These haunting tracks are reminiscent of Augustus Pablo’s classic melodica dubs, but the drums are punchier, and there are noticeable jazz/funk undercurrents.

Though he hails from Dominica, the “Nature Island of the Caribbean,” Free Joseph now spends half of his time in Concord, NH, and the album was recorded in New York City. “Chuck-A-Dub,” in particular, exhibits strong American influences. With its funky organ riffs and careening drum rolls, it sounds like a long-lost “acid jazz” cut from 1990. The organ riffs of “Electric Bob” are laid over a rhythm propulsive enough to dance to, and there’s even a rock-style guitar solo at the end. The catchy, up-tempo “Simple” could be a reggae version of that perkiest of hits: Katrina and the Waves’ “Walking On Sunshine.” So, while the idea of flute solos over dub might sound like the ultimate “chill-out” music, this set will keep you groovin’.  





New Hampshire magazine


Every Tongue Shall Tell


Contributed by: Tom Orr

Free Joseph

Speaking in Tongues (Far Island Vision FIVD003, 2005)

Free Joseph has been a working reggae musician for many years, proficient on various instruments and having performed extensively on both U.S. coasts (particularly the west) and abroad. Presently he divides his time between his birthplace on the Caribbean island of Dominica and Concord, New Hampshire. His most recent CD, Speaking in Tongues, would be most readily categorized as reggae, but let's not be hasty here. It's an instrumental album, the dominant instrument being, somewhat surprisingly, the flute. And while the pulse of reggae is almost entirely present throughout, it's not hard imagining this beautiful music fitting into jazz, easy listening or even new age formats.

There's an uplifting, heartfelt vibe that infuses the whole thing, with tracks like "Simple," "Right Way a Wrong" and "Essence of Love" giving an idea of what's on Free's mind even though there's no lyrics to provide clarification (the title thus takes on a kind of mystic irony that adds to the disc's ample appeal).

Absent is much of the militant quality often associated with reggae, though there is a strong sense of roots in the grooves even when they're laced with such things as harmonica or synth strings. In a way, Free does with the flute what Augustus Pablo did with the melodica- he takes a signature instrument and places it in a reggae context to create a fresh sound. Call it reggae, call it craftily catchy instrumental music, call it music that's both laid back and energizing to mind and body. Speaking in Tongues speaks volumes of great listening on every level.

[Buy Speaking in Tongues ].