The inspiration for the rhythm of Ska came from the Southern US Rhythm and Blues records of the 1950s. Coxsone Dodd had initially encountered this music while working as a migrant farm worker in Florida. It was here that he first decided to start a Soundsystem on returning to Jamaica and began importing RíníB records that would soon become the staple musical sound of any Kingston dance. The main RíníB artists of the day were Roscoe Gordon, Wynonie Harris, Amos Milburn, Fats Domino, Louis Jordan. Listening back to these records it is possible to hear the roots of this new Jamaican sound. Another important element of Ska was the Jazz that the Alpha Boys School-educated musicians brought to this new music. Roland Alphonso, Don Drummond, Johnny Moore (the frontline horn section of The Skatalites) all attended the Alpha School and it was here along with many other great musicians such as Joe Harriott, Rico Rodriguez and Wilton Gaynair, that the boys were taught classical, military and Jazz improvisation under the strict supervision of the Roman Catholic Nuns who ran the School. One of the music teachers was Lennie Hibbert who would himself record for Studio One. Don Drummond, the most progressive of the musicians who also attended Alpha, was also unfortunately the most troubled and frequently registered himself in mental health care. Drummondís complex personality had nonetheless a very positive influence on the Skatalites. Many of the groupís most haunting songs were written by Drummond who was as much inspired by his Rastafarian faith as by the new modal jazz that artists such as Miles Davis were making in America. Johnny Moore recalls that Drummond learnt his Modal stylings "by post", sending and receiving material from a music course in the US. Although strict, the Nuns encouraged the musicians. Sister Ignatius, who ran the school, encouraged the musicians to play and even had a record deck in the school where the boys could dance the Ska! In the late 1950s Coxsone began recording one-off records to play on his Downbeat Soundsystem. The music he first recorded was a Jamaican interpretation of American Rhythm and Blues. He would hire musicians such as Cluett Johnson and The Blues Blasters and Herman Hersangís City Slickers and record in various studios around Kingston. August 5, 1962 was the day of Jamaican Independence. Ska caught the mood of this period. In 1963 Coxsone opened his own studio at 13 Brentford Road, Kingston. He named the building Studio One and set about defining the future sound of Jamaican music. Young artists such as The Wailers, The Ethiopians, The Maytals and Delroy Wilson all began their careers making joyous uptempo Ska at Studio One. The group that accompanied all these artists were The Skatalites. The Skatalites were Tommy McCook, Roland Alphonso (tenor saxes), Lester Sterling (alto sax), Don Drummond (trombone), Johnny Moore (trumpet), Jackie Mittoo (piano), Jah Jerry (guitar), Lloyd Brevett (bass) and Lloyd Knibbs (drums). Whilst Ska music became easily identifiable by playing on the off-beat (usually the piano and guitar) The Skatalites brought their wide influences into the music. Ska could include Modal Jazz, Pop, Jump Up RíníB, Rastafarian and Burro music, US Western and film soundtracks, Easy Listening and even classical music. Consequently this CD includes proto-Rastafarian music such as Don Drummondís "Addis Ababa" alongside interpretations of UK mod songs (El President is based on Georgie Fameís "Yeh Yeh").You will also find Latin-tinged tunes such as "Don Cosmic", jump-up Gospel/Ska from the Maytals, Eastern-flavoured modal instrumentals such as "El Bang Bang" . The young singers who The Skatalites backed in turn also brought their own influences into the music. The youthful Rude Boy culture became the lyrical subject of many Ska songs whether you were for them or against them. By 1965 Ska music was over. The musical mood of the country was changing. Independence had brought Jamaica a new set of issues and the music had to reflect this, heralding the arrival of Rocksteady, which had a slower beat and was based on the emerging Soul music of American artists such as Curtis Mayfield. In 1965 The Skatalites split-up to form two new groups- The Soul Brothers who became the new house-band at Studio One and Tommy McCook and the Supersonics who moved over to rival Duke Reidís new Treasure Isle studio. Ska, however, had made itís mark and Jamaican music was now known throughout the world. And despite the brevity of their time together (just over a year!) The Skatalites left behind a legacy of literally hundreds of classic recordings.
(added: 2011-03-23 20:47:47 )