Ska gets rebirth

Simone Morgan Observer reporter morgans@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, January 10, 2012    

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LLOYD Brevett, co-founder and former bass player of the legendary band The Skatalites, said he is excited about the decision to form the Ska Rebirth Band.

The members of the new outfit, whose mandate it is to carry on the ska legacy, will be selected from the Alpha Boys School and range between 20 to 26 years old.

According to the institution's bandmaster, Neville 'Sparrow' Martin, he and orginal Wailer, Bunny 'Wailer' Livingston, are fulfilling the wish of late Skatalite drummer Lloyd Knibbs.

"We are really appreciative of the Skatalites' contribution to the music and the remaining members Lester Sterling (saxophone) and Lloyd Brevett (bass) are mentors to these young men. Also, this was one of Lloyd's biggest desires as he really wanted this genre of music to continue. So, he requested that I used members from the boys' home because ska music originated from this institution," Martin told the Observer.

Martin said that he is anticipating a successul year for Ska Rebirth as the band is anticipating tours of Canada and sections of the Caribbean later this year.

The Skatalites consisting of approximately 10 members was formed in 1964. Their classic recordings included Guns of Navarone, Confusious and Freedom Sounds. They also backed several top artistes of the day including The Wailers on the 1964 hit song Simmer Down.

The group has recorded over 20 albums and toured the world extensively. The group broke up several times with some of the members forming separate bands such as the Soul Vendors and the Supersonics. The orginal Skatalites line-up included: the saxophone trio of Tommy McCook, Roland Alphonso and Sterling; the troubled trombonist Don Drummond; trumpeter Johnny 'Dizzy' Moore; Knibb on drums; and keyboardist Jackie Mittoo. Other regular members were Jah Jerry Haynes, Barbadian singer Jackie Opel, and Doreen Shaffer. Over the years, some of the biggest names in Jamaican music have played in the band including Cedric 'Im' Brooks, bass player Val Douglas and Vin Gordon.

The Skatalites, however, reformed in 1986.

"Ska music was our method used to uplift the youths and make Jamaica known around the world," said Brevett, who left the band five years ago.

Brevett's involvement in music spanned of over six decades, long before his venture into ska.

"My father David Brevett was also a bass player. He not only taught me how to play but to make the instrument. I used to play jazz and calypso music with with Eric Dean orchestra among other bands," said the soft-spoken, 80-year-old.

Brevett currently resides in the United States with his wife, Ruth, but said he plans to return to Jamaica. He said due to ill health he had to put down his bass but he remembered his last performance was in Singapore in 2004.

He believes that the Skatalites contribution to the industry is not fully recognised and appreciated.

"I am really disappointed about the way in which myself and even Lester is treated. We have poured our hearts into the music and now we are not receiving the compensation we deserve. Last year, I even gave my bass to a museum in Jamaica, but now I am considering to have it returned to me as it is sometimes it is the only reminder that I have of all the work I did," he said.




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