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Roots and Rhythms
Wednesday March 29th, 2017 with Retro Renny
Original ska instrumentals recorded by the Skatalites in 1964, including their cover versions of jazz tunes.

Fusing elements from American jazz, boogie woogie and R&B shuffles with Jamaican mento, the SKATALITES created an exciting, new art form. Tonights show features SKA instrumentals they recorded in 1964 for two Jamaican labels: Top Deck & Studio One.
The Skatalites were: Tommy McCook, tenor saxophone,flute; Roland Alphonso, tenor saxophone; Lester "Ska" Sterling, alto saxophone; Don Drummond, trombone; Johnny "Dizzy" Moore, trumpet; Jerome "Jah Jerry" Haynes, guitar; Jackie Mittoo, piano; Lloyd Brevett, double bass; Lloyd Knibb, drums. Many of the Skatalites (McCook,Sterling, Moore and Drummond) gained their musical education at the Alpha Boys School in Kingston, a school run by Jesuits for wayward boys that was reknowned for it's music program. In the Fifties many of the band members also played together in the local Jamaican big bands (Eric Deans' All Stars and Val Bennett's Orchestra) that played the hotels and resorts for the tourists. The Skatalites could read music and used charts for their recordings. Alphonso, Drummond and McCook recorded jazz tracks for two Jamaican jazz albums that were released in '62 and '63. When McCook was first asked to play in Studio One's house band he declined because he was so dedicated to jazz.
Ska-Ra-Van (aka Caravan) (Take 3)
ROLAND ALPHONSO & THE SKATALITES - Top Deck Presents: Ska Instrumentals - 40 Essential Instrumentals Hits Vol. 2 - '66, Top Deck Records/'13, Spectrum Music
Many of the Skatalites came from jazz backgrounds and Justin "Phillip" Yap, the owner of Top Deck records, was a jazz fan. This track is a ska adaptation of Duke Ellington's "Caravan".
China Clipper
THE SKATALITES - Top Deck Presents: Ska Instrumentals - 40 Essential Instrumentals Hits Vol. 1 - '66, Top Deck Records/'13, Spectrum Music
One of Yap's favourite jazz musicians was Arthur Lyman, a vibraphone and marimba player who was one of the pioneers of what is now known as exotica; a lounge music that is a mix of jazz and Polynesian rhythms. "China Clipper" is one of Lyman's compositions.
Ghost Town (aka You Can't Sit Down)
THE SKATALITES - Top Deck Presents: Ska Instrumentals - 40 Essential Instrumentals Hits Vol. 2 - '66, Top Deck Records/'13, Spectrum Music
"You Can't Sit Down" was released by Phil Upchurch Combo in 1961 and climbed to number 29 on the pop charts. The Skatalites give it the ska treatment and renamed it "Ghost Town".
Ska-Boo-Da-Ba (aka Boo-Da-Ba)
THE SKATALITES - Top Deck Presents: Ska Instrumentals - 40 Essential Instrumentals Hits Vol. 2 - '65, Top Deck Records/'13, Spectrum Music
Another ska version of an American instrumental, this time a Bill Doggett number, "Boo-Da-Ba", some R&B from 1958.
Lawless Street (Instrumental)
THE SKATALITES - Top Deck Presents: Ska Instrumentals - 40 Essential Instrumentals Hits Vol. 1 - '66, Top Deck Records/'13, Spectrum Music
Not all of the Skatalites music was based on American jazz and R&B, "Lawless Street" was based on a traditional Jamaican mento song.
Black Sunday
THE SKATALITES - Ska Bonanza: The Studio One Ska Years Vol. 1 - '64, Studio One Records/'91, Heartbeat CD
Red Is Danger (Take 3)
JOHNNY "DIZZY" MOORE & THE SKATALITES - Top Deck Presents: Ska Instrumentals - 40 Essential Instrumentals Hits Vol. 1 - '65, Top Deck Records/'13, Spectrum Music
The soloist on the number would often get star billing on the single. "Dizzy" Moore was the trumpeter in the Skatalites.
The famous English jazz pianist, George Shearing stated that Don Drummond was one of the top five trombone players in the world. Not only was Drummond an amazing trombonist but he was also a prolific composer, writing over 200 pieces of music in the year he was with the Skatalites.
Drummond murdered his girlfriend on New Years Day, 1965. He was found to be criminally insane and was remanded to an asylum. He died from overdosing on his medication four years later.
All the songs in the next two sets of music (with the exception of "Guns Of Navarone") were written by Drummond.
Man In The Street
DON DRUMMOND - Ska Bonanza: The Studio One Ska Years Vol. 2 - '64, Coxsone Records/'91, Heartbeat CD
Music Is My Occupation
DON DRUMMOND - Old Skool Ska – An Anthology Vol. 2 - '65, Studio One Records/'97, Recall 2CD/Snapper Music
Don Cosmic
DON DRUMMOND & THE SKATALITES - Ska Bonanza: The Studio One Ska Years Vol. 1 - '64, Studio One Records/'91, Heartbeat CD
Marcus Junior (Instrumental)
THE SKATALITES - Top Deck Presents: Ska Instrumentals - 40 Essential Instrumentals Hits Vol. 1 - '65, Top Deck Records/'13, Spectrum Music
The instrumentals "Marcus Junior" and "The Reburial" were written by Drummond to honour Marcus Garvey, the black orator and leader of the Pan-Africanism movement. Marcus Garvey was born in Jamaica but died in England in 1940, twenty years later his body was returned to Jamaica for reburial. Drummond was a Rastafarian and Garvey was considered to be a prophet in that religion.
Guns Of Navarone
THE SKATALITES - Old Skool Ska – An Anthology Vol. 1 - '65, Island Records/'97, Recall 2CD/Snapper Music
The Skatalites were fond of covering movie scores. The "Guns Of Navarone" was leased by Coxsone Dodd (the owner of Studio One Records) to Island Records, which had distribution in England. "Guns Of Navarone" climbed to number 36 on the British pop charts in the summer of 1967.
The Reburial
THE SKATALITES - Top Deck Presents: Ska Instrumentals - 40 Essential Instrumentals Hits Vol. 1 - '65, Top Deck Records/'13, Spectrum Music
Roll On Sweet Don (aka Heaven And Hell)
DON DRUMMOND & ROLAND ALPHONSO - Ska Bonanza: The Studio One Ska Years Vol. 2 - '64, Studio One Records/'91, Heartbeat CD
The last set of music is another set of jazz inspired ska. Including two tracks by one of the Skatalites two tenor saxophonists, Roland Alphonso.
Because Of You (aka Dahil Sayo) (Take 1)
ROLAND ALPHONSO - Top Deck Presents: Ska Instrumentals - 40 Essential Instrumentals Hits Vol. 1 - '65, Top Deck Records/'13, Spectrum Music
The instrumental "Because Of You" is another cover version of anArthur Lyman composition, "Dahil Sayo".
Live Desire (Sax Version)
ROLAND ALPHONSO - Top Deck Presents: Ska Instrumentals - 40 Essential Instrumentals Hits Vol. 2 - '64, unissued/'13, Spectrum Music
Surftide Seven (aka In A Mellow Tone)
THE SKATALITES - Top Deck Presents: Ska Instrumentals - 40 Essential Instrumentals Hits Vol. 2 - '66, Top Deck Records/'13, Spectrum Music
Ending the show as we started, with a Duke Ellington cover. The Skatalites transform the Ellington/Strayhorn composition "In A Mellow Tone" into a ska instrumental. This track goes out to all the jazz fans who often have to suffer through my more gut bucket choices of music. Enjoy!
Don Drummond's arrest inevitably led to the downfall of the Skatalites. The band played their last gig in August of 1965. The band split into two groups, The Supersonics who were led by saxophonist, Tommy McCook and included drummer, Lloyd Knibb. The Supersonics were the house band at Treasure Isle Records, the competition. Roland Alphonso formed the new Studio One session band, The Soul Brothers (later known as the Soul Vendors aka Sound Dimension) with keyboardist, Jackie Mittoo and bassist Lloyd Brevett. The trumpeter "Dizzy" Moore played in both bands.
The full roster of the Skatalites lasted less than a year but they remained the most important ska band in Jamaica.
Interactive CKCU
Renny G (host)
Jazzy, Jamaican & Joyous!

8:06 PM, March 29th, 2017
Renny G (host)
If you recognize the melody of Black Sunday let me know what it is, it's been driving me crazy.

8:22 PM, March 29th, 2017
brucew
I love the way you use the playlist. Great show.

11:06 AM, March 30th, 2017