Reggae is another realm of popular music where the vibraphone so rarely makes a foray. As a result, Jamaican vibraphonist, Lennie Hibbert, pretty much has the field all to himself, as the intersection of reggae and the vibes essentially begins and ends with this one soul. Hibbert’s theme song – if one were to exist – would most definitely be “Village Soul,” easily his best known composition, but 1974’s tuneful instrumental “Ital Vibes” is another great starting point for vibraphone-infused reggae:
“Ital Vibes” – Lennie Hibbert – Produced by Harry Mudie
The bulk of Hibbert’s early work appears to be with Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One label, where he recorded as part of Coxsone’s house band, The Sound Dimension, and also released a few singles under his own name.
Hibbert did appear, however on at least two Nyabinghi-inflected singles recorded at the studio of pioneering female producer, Sonia Pottinger: “The Retreat Song” (with Millicent ‘Patsy‘ Todd) and “Pure Soul” (with Count Ossie & Lyn Taitt), both from 1968.
Hibbert would record two long-playing releases as a solo artist on Studio One — 1969’s Creation and 1971’s More Creation — before moving on to Harry Mudie‘s label for at least one single, 1974’s wonderfully understated slice of ‘strings reggae’ – “Ital Vibes” b/w version mix “Vibes Skank” (billed as Mudies All Stars).
rear cover – 1969 Studio One LP, Creation
Hibbert’s biography on AllMusic points out that in 1976 the vibraphonist would be awarded the Order of Distinction for his contribution to Jamaican music, as well as his work as an educator at Kingston’s legendary Alpha Boys School, training ground for an extraordinary number of Jamaica’s top musicians and where a hall would be named in honor of Hibbert, who passed in 1984.
Lennie Hibbert enthusiasts may want to seek out his exceptionally rare debut album, Moon-Light Party at the Myrtle Bank Hotel, although be prepared to pay through the nose: one copy sold in 2006 for $760. Be advised, however, this is actually a studio album and not a live recording as the title would seem to suggest.