It was in 2013 when I first met Jah Gumby, or Ryan Murakami, while organizing an all-vinyl party with friends. Our headliner was Woosey, who went by Papa Woowu at the time — and a number of names, really. I'd known Woosey for several years prior through music during high school.
From Hilo, Woosey told me over the phone that "there's another guy who I want to co-headline with, Jah Gumby." Woosey told me about Gumby's record collection and how deep his knowledge of music goes. I looked him up on YouTube and found his Rarities for Sharities series. Serious gold from a serious collector!
I made a video with my iPhone 3 to promote that event, it still lives online:
Looking back, co-organizing that event with my friends Oliver and Nabahe led to a handful of relationships that have grown into pieces of the label. Meeting Jah Gumby through Woosey led to this project today, Humility. The artwork for the party's flyer and the drawing of that guy wearing a beret with a crown? Designed by Dana Paresa, who later illustrated the FRNT BZNZZ 7" we released in summer 2018.
Years following that party, Oliver and I would hang out at Gumby's house in Palolo Valley, listening to jazz records (and reggae too, but mostly jazz).
Gumby hipped me to this tune on one occassion:
2013 was two years before I launched the record label. While hanging out with Gumby, the idea would arise to work on a release together. We tossed it around in earnest when the Mike Lundy releases came out. "It'd be dope to release a Jah G album on Aloha Got Soul, yeah? Let's do it."
But it wasn't until March 2017 when I walked into Idea's Music & Books and the owner, Sheriff Norm Winter, said "Hey! Do you know Ryan Murakami?" (Norm is the guy wearing the beret and crown in Dana's illustration, by the way.)
"Of course", I told Norm.
I don't know if he had heard me; Norm got Ryan on the phone and said "Hey Ryan, I got this record distributor guy in here right now and you two gotta make a record together". Norm handed me the phone and I was like, "Well, wanna make this happen?"
Later that week we started the process of sifting through Gumby's archives of material — some released digitally and on CD, but none yet on wax — as well as listening to some brand new tracks he'd been working on.
We decided a double LP of dub instrumentals — no vocals — would be the best approach to Jah Gumby's first solo release on vinyl.
It took the next year to compile the 16 tracks featured on Humility: The Vibes of Jah G; much time spent on Gumby's behalf recording, dubbing, and mixing the tracks to perfection. Bringing Ichiban Horns into the Father Psalms Studio on tunes like "Original" and "Universal I" was icing on the cake.
We sent the final mixes to Sam John of Precise Mastering in the UK to polish the tunes. ("Well done to all involved, from arrangement/production to recording and mixing, everything was a pleasure in every sense to work with.")
Jah Gumby's tunes on Humility are deep, multi-layered, jazz-inflected; unique in their contribution to the unending catalog of reggae music worldwide.
But what strikes me about Humility is not the complexity of the work, but the feeling in each track. The breadth of emotion carried through each composition is clearly Gumby's; it is unmistakable when listening that the artist's experiences pour through. No words, just music.
Humility: The Vibes Of Jah G, is a 16-track masterwork of jazz-inflected, multi-layered progressive dub reggae. As the third release of contemporary music on the label, Humility aligns beautifully with the Aloha Got Soul catalog — music with soul, conviction, feeling, and roots in Hawai‘i.
Available digitally everywhere, including Bandcamp.
We also pressed 500 vinyl copies: 2LP with gatefold jacket.