The Skatalites – Foundation Ska (1992)

“As fans are well aware, although the Skatalites only officially existed for a mere 14 months or so, the bandmembers’ impact on Jamaican music extended far beyond that brief period into the rocksteady era and then the reggae era and beyond, and stretching back into the island’s pre-recording days. In various aggregations, the musicians played on vast swathes of songs throughout the ’60s, and during the ska years virtually everything that was put on disc featured at least a couple of the men. Foundation Ska delves deeply into this era, exclusively with the group’s work for Coxsone Dodd. A good number of the tracks predate the group’s official launch, and even then the Studio One head oftentimes preferred to release their singles credited to the composer and/or the main soloist. Thus, although all 32 of the songs within were recorded by the band, many of them never appeared under the group’s name. Helpfully, the sleeve notes provide an excellent background piece on the island’s early music scene, as well as an exceptional biography of the band drawn from interviews with group members. Best of all, though, the individual soloists are listed for each song, a boon for those desperate to tell the saxophonists’ work apart. …”

“The Skatalites brought together the top musicians and styles of the time—fusing boogie-woogie blues, R&B, jazz, mento, calypso, and African rhythms—to create the first truly Jamaican music: ska. Throughout the mid-20th century, experience in big bands solidified the prowess of most Jamaican musicians; yet, the genesis for many of the great Skatalites goes back to a boys’ school established for the wayward. The Alpha Boys School, run by the Sisters of Mercy and led (for most of last century) by Sister Ignatius, educated many of the future Skatalites. Founded in 1880 and having its own band since the 1890s, Alpha was essentially a military-style school that also developed top-notch musicians. Tommy McCook became a pupil there in 1938, playing his sax in the school’s best orchestra by 1942. Fellow Skatalites, including master penman and trombonist Don Drummond, Johnny ‘Dizzy’ Moore, and Lester Sterling also attended Alpha, same way for Cedric Brooks, Vin Gordon, Rico Rodriquez, Ernest Ranglin, Eddie ‘Tan Tan’ Thornton, Bobby Ellis, ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace and JoJo Bennett, all of whom have played with, or were members of The Skatalites. …”
The Foundation of Ska

YouTube: Fidel Castro, Christine Keeler, Ken Boothe Stranger Cole & Skatalites – World’s Fair, Two For One, Eastern standard time, Scandal ska


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