McCookTenor saxophone player Tommy McCook was a pivotal member of Jamaica's legendary Skatalites in the mid 1960s, a band that -- although they were together for only fourteen months -- completely defined the instrumental template for ska, mixing in big-band jazz sensibilities with Latin and samba rhythms and buru drumming to create the first of Jamaica's many distinct pop styles. But McCook's influence on the island's music didn't end with the disbanding of the Skatalites in 1965. He moved quickly on to Duke Reid's Treasure Isle studio, where he assembled the Supersonics, a session band that had a big hand in slowing down ska and morphing it into Jamaica's next rhythmic phase, rock steady. Membership in the Supersonics, as with most of the island's studio aggregations, was loose and fluid, but generally included guitarists Lynn Taitt and Ernest Ranglin, organists Winston Wright and Neville Hinds, pianist Gladstone "Gladdy" Anderson, drummers Hugh Malcom and Arkland "Drumbago" Parks, and bassist Clifton "Jackie" Jackson, plus the best horn men the island had to offer, all led by McCook on tenor sax (and sometimes flute). As the slower, cooler rhythms of rock steady took hold, McCook, always a gifted arranger, was able to take full advantage of the musicians at his disposal, and he crafted soulful and jazzy backdrops to the countless vocal rock steady hits that issued from Treasure Isle. Reid eventually realized the stand-alone value of these backing tracks and versioned them repeatedly. The Jamaican music scene has always been a restless one, and McCook and company moved on in the mid 1970s to work with other producers, most notably Bunny Lee, along with occasional sides produced by Winston "Niney" Holness, Alvin Ranglin, and Lee "Scratch" Perry. Through it all there is McCook's steady sax work, thick and solid, but never willfully intrusive, and his remarkably versatile arrangements would go on to be among the most versioned in the history of Jamaican music, created by a handful of brilliant jazz musicians who orchestrated the rhythms and the feel of the island’s greatest pop era.