When talking about Ska Music one group of musicians whose name always comes to the forefront of the conversation are The Skatalites. Formed around 1965 and named originally after the Soviet space satellite which was big news at the time and with a little help from band member Tommy McCook, making a play on the characteristic ‘Ska’sound made by the guitar when following the ‘after beat’ of the music. The band would have a name to go with its distinctive musical style.
The group had honed their skills by playing under various guises around Jamaica in numerous ‘Hotel Bands’. When the big Sound System operators of the day, Sir Coxsanne Dodd, Duke Reid and King Edwards needed new material to play out with they turned to this group of musicians to provide it. Their usual source for the material was beginning to dry up, namely the American R&B records of the day due to tastes in the USA changing. They began by getting the group to record their own set of tunes in this still popular sound in Jamaica and also cut some tracks with the popular singers of the day, Delroy Wilson, Alton Ellis and Lord Creator to name but a few. Their knowledge of the old mento tunes and an understanding of Jazz and the R&B sound under the tutorledge of their official band leader and main musical director Don Drummond made this possible and created a sound that was to dominate the Island from the early 60’s to around 1966 when the music would slow down to become Rocksteady.
The time span of the Skatilites career considering their output of hundreds of tunes was a relatively short one of around two years. The line-up consisted of Don Drummond (Trombone), Roland Alphonso (Tenor Saxophone), Tommy McCook (Tenor Saxophone), Johnny ‘Dizzy Moore (Trumpet), Lester Sterling (Alto Saxophone), Jerome ‘Jah Jerry’ Hines (Guitar), Jackie Mittoo (Piano), Lloyd Brevett (Bass), and Lloyd Knibbs (Drums). We have caught a great set of tunes that the band cut at the legendary Treasure Isle Studio’s, built out of wood and positioned above Duke Reids liquour store it somehow worked in getting a great sound out of the band or maybe it was in intimidating sight of Duke Reid and his ever present loaded gun that he carried at all times that provided some inspiration!!.
Whatever the reasons, the band cut some mighty fine tunes of which we have cherry picked a selection for your musicical pleasure …Hope you enjoy the set.