JACKIE MITTOO (b. 1948 - † 1990)
CHAMPION IN THE ARENA 1976-1977
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1976-1977 - Blood and Fire - studio - discs:1
Jackie Mittoo was one of the main leaders inside Clement "Coxsone" Dodd's Studio One. He was the top Hammond piano player for nearly two decades and it is impossible to overstate his importance both as musician and arranger on countless sessions. It is not an exaggeration to say that Mittoo (1948 - 1990) and Studio One are synonymous. Born Donat Roy Mittoo on March 3, 1948, he was taught piano from the age of four. Around thirteen years old he met Coxsone Dodd which would open his new studio Studio One in 1963. At that time he was invited by the legendary Dodd to supervise the studio recordings and this activity will cover the rest of that decade and the first years of the next. In June 1964 Jackie was one of the founding members of no less than the most important Ska band that ever existed: the Skatalites! This incredible top players band lasted only a brief amount of time but what came out during those days is some of the best music produced in Jamaica. In August 1965 the original band quit after the trombonist Don Drummond killed his lover Marguerita. Later some members would regroup as Soul Brothers (1965-early 1967). Between 1967 and 1970 five albums were released by Studio One as Jackie Mittoo solo sets. In the mean time he continued to play for the house band of Coxsone. Along with this activity as musician, Jackie played a key role as writer, arranger, producer and man at the mixing board. In the late 60's he moved to Toronto (Canada) but he continued to travel home to record in the Brentford Road's Studio One. By the mid-70's he met Bunny Lee and that was the starting point for this present set. Between 1976 and 1979 Lee released four sets of Mittoo. The last of these was called "The Original" (1979) and it was released in Canada too on Jackie's own label as "Showcase Volume 3". The present instrumental set contains that album plus other tracks recorded between 1976 - 1977. Jackie plays as good as he had done since his best performances in the mid-60's. The music is confident as he versions old Studio One material to create new beautiful musical territories. His keyboard produces a texture soft as silk and gentle as his own human personality. All the tracks were produced by Bunny Lee and were recorded at Dynamic Studios and Channel One. Jackie Mittoo will live forever as one of the greatest piano players in Jamaica.
LAST TRAIN TO SKAVILLE
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1965-1967 - Soul Jazz Records - studio - discs: 1
As soon as The Skatalites quit in August 1965, Jackie Mittoo formed the The Soul Brothers. This new Studio One house band featured former members of The Skatalites. The list reads Roland Alphonso, Johnny Moore and Lloyd Brevett. Other members were Wallin Cameron (guitar) and Bunny Williams (drums). This very powerful ensamble released material under their own name or under the name of Mittoo or Alphonso. The line - up changed more than once with Bobby Ellis (trumpet), Bryan Atkinson (bass), Dennis Campbell (saxophone), Harry Haughton (guitar) and Joe Isaacs (drums) replacing various members. But Mittoo was always present. Aside from the general new sound that still brought within itself some Ska atmospheres, some important innovations were brought by the introduction of the electric organ and the electric guitar. A version of this band was set to England by Coxsone Dodd for a tour in 1967. The were called The Soul Vendors. This signalled the end of The Soul Brothers. Around that time Mittoo cut with The Soul Vendors his first hit "Ram Jam". The powerful material presented here comes from The Soul Brothers. The list of the instrumentals reads: " Train To Skaville", "James Bond", "Voodoo Moon", "Ska Shuffle", "Take Ten", "Chicken And Booze", "Honey Pot", "Mr. Flint", "Dr. Ring Ding", "Got My Boogaloo", "From Russia With Love", "Ska-Culation", "Home Made", "Sufferer's Choice", "One Stop" and "Hot And Cold". Shifting away from classic Ska but not yet Rocksteady, the instrumentals delivered here are strong and powerful and in some cases they are really gems.