Jackie Mittoo

The Keyboard Legend

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Jackie Mittoo was one of the architects of the Studio One sound. As musical director and primary keyboard player for the studio, he created a slew of rhythms under producer Clement Dodd's watch. Many of these formed the basis for rocksteady and reggae hits by the likes of Ken Boothe, the Gaylads, Alton Ellis, the Heptones, and Marcia Griffiths, among many others. Mittoo and the studio's house band, the Soul Vendors, also cut a wealth of instrumental sides, often under the organist's guidance. Many of these sides are available on collections like Heartbeat's excellent two-disc set Tribute to Jackie Mittoo. While not as prime as his Studio One work, Mittoo's many recordings from later on in the '70s deserve a listen, as well. This generous roundup features 20 of those tracks, all of which were produced by Jamaican studio legend Bunny Lee. In addition to inventive remakes of such Studio One classics as "Ram Jam" and "Darker Shade of Black," Mittoo delivers freshly cut stunners like "Champion of the Arena" and "MPLA Rock." While newcomers will want to start with one of Mittoo's Studio One collections, seasoned fans shouldn't hesitate in picking up this fine disc.

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