Hunting Jamaica’s ‘secret stash’
WHEN Tyrone Patterson was a professional musician, making hit records was his main objective. He returned to the music business after a 30-year break with an aim to unearth lost gems.
A former musician, the 72-year-old Patterson is an agent for Secret Stash Records, a multi-media company in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that specialises in rare music, especially Rhythm and Blues, gospel, soul, and jazz.
Its growing catalogue contains music and albums by artistes from Africa, Latin America and the United States.
Recently, Secret Stash has shown interest in hard-to-find sounds with Caribbean roots. Its first release of that kind came in 2009 with the release of Reggae Interpretation of Kind of Blue, a Jamaican tribute to Miles Davis’ classic 1959 album.
The 10-song set was produced by Jeremy Taylor, a former professor at New York University.
Secret Stash has added songs by The Cats — a London band which Patterson was a member of during the 1960s and 1970s — to its list.
Patterson, who lives in Anchovy, St James, says the company also hopes to distribute songs from the catalogue of producer Sonny Roberts, the first Jamaican to open a recording studio in Britain.
“I’m looking for new old stuff, nothing derogatory, songs with nice melodies,” Patterson told the Jamaica Observer from his St James home.
Patterson says he moved to England in 1962, settling in Battersea, south London. A keyboardist, he was founding member of The Cats, a quintet that also included Guyanaborn bassist Richard Archer, drummer Mick Okoro, guitarist John Kpiaye, and vocalist Keith Lewis.
Okoro and Kpiaye’s fathers are Nigerian and their mothers British. Kpiaye is a member of dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson’s band.
The Cats had a solid hit song in Britain in 1968 with a reggae version of Swan Lake. Their contemporaries included The Equals with Guyana-born singer Eddy Grant, and Matumbi which was led by Barbadian Dennis Bovell, who is presently Linton Kwesi Johnson’s musical director.
Patterson says he has been associated with Secret Stash Records for the past two years. Their link came through Swan Lake which the label had on its books.
“I found out that people were pirating the song so I contacted them and they explained the situation. I have been dealing with them since,” he said.
When The Cats broke up in 1975, Patterson maintained some ties to the British music industry. He returned to Jamaica permanently in 1982 and now operates a tool importation and piano tuning business in St James.