Bob Marley Bronx Jam Session

A 1960s-era audio cassette tape which features rare versions of eight songs that a young Bob Marley recorded in New York when he had aspirations to become an American-style rhythm and blues singer.  Joined by Jimmy Norman (a songwriter and later a member of the R&B group, The Coasters) and others, this recording was made in 1968 using a simple home tape recorder.  Norman’s handwritten notation of Bob Marley Live is penned in blue ballpoint ink on the cassette.

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The original master has about twenty-four minutes of Marley material and is in fragile, but playable, condition.  The eight Marley songs on the tape are:

1) Wings of a Dove (I Need Your Love So Much)
2) Stranger on the Shore
3) One Love, True Love
4) Splish for My Splash
5) I’m Hurting Inside
6) Falling In and Out of Love
7) Stay With Me
8) You Think I Have No Feelings

When Bob Marley visited songwriter Jimmy Norman at his New York City apartment in early 1968, his goal was to become an R&B performer. Not yet a star, the twenty-three year old Marley had just come under contract with pop music pioneer Johnny Nash.

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Norman, already a veteran Tin Pan Alley composer and R&B singer, was asked by Nash to work with the promising Jamaican artist on his trip to New York. The day began in apartment 6-H at 2119 Valentine Avenue in the Bronx with Marley and Norman sharing songs. Marley was a big fan of James Brown and wanted to learn as much from Norman as he could about R&B. In turn, Norman learned from Marley about Rock Steady, a style of music that would soon evolve into Reggae. During the day, the pair worked together on eight songs. Norman played an old upright piano. Marley played his guitar. There were various instruments, including part of a drum set, in the six-room apartment and they all were used from time to time throughout the day.

That night, after a long collaboration, Marley, his wife, Rita, Norman, his wife, Dorothy and his co-writer, Al Pyfrom recorded the songs on a cassette tape recorder.

The jam session was such a success that Marley invited Norman to join him a week later in Jamaica to work with the Wailers on their first major record. Remarkably, all eight songs from the Bronx Jam Session recording, several written by Norman and Pyfrom and several by Marley, would eventually be recorded for commercial release by Marley. When later issued in some form on Marley’s albums, the songs were performed as Reggae and not R&B as originally intended.

This Bronx Jam Session recording is a remarkable documentation of Marley’s rapid musical evolution from traditional R&B to the newly minted ‘Reggae’ sound which ultimately made him an international star.

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