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Jackie Mittoo

Page history last edited by kalcidis 15 years, 1 month ago

Jackie Mittoo (b. Donat Roy Mittoo, the 3rd of March in 1948, in Browns Town, St Ann's, Jamaica) was one of the most important musicians in Jamaica. He started playing keyboards at the age of four under the tutelage of his grandmother and was a dedicated keyboard player all through his teen years, even performing with professional groups such as the Vagabonds and the Vikings. Jackie would often skip school in order to play with the house band at nearby Federal Studios. While skipping school he met Coxsone Dodd at one of these sessions - Dodd recruited him for recording sessions when a scheduled pianist failed to appear on time.


While studying at Kingston College the young Mittoo formed a trio with schoolmate Augustus Pablo and yet another friend - The Jackie Mitree - which performed Mittoo's original compositions.


In 1962 Mitto started earning attention for his work in the band the Sheiks (who later renamed to the Cavaliers Orchestra). In 1963 when Coxsone opened up Studio One he had Mittoo working as a musical director - Mittoo would play on virtually all records from the studio in the following years. He would as a musical director arrange much of the music, develop and polish new songs until they met standards. In June 1964 he and a couple of other pioneering musicians would form what was to be known as The Skatalites. The group lasted for just 14 months but had tremendous influence on the music.


In August 1965 when the Skatalites had split Mittoo sought a solo career. He had a major hit with his rendition of The Heptones song »Fatty Fatty«. In 1967 he had yet another hit with »Ram Jam«, the same year he released his debut album In London. More solo albums followed as well numerous arrangements created by Jackie. He had when signing for Coxsone signed an arrangement that stated that he was going to get payment for delivering five new compositions every week. Some of these compositions where the classics »Darker Shade Of Black«, [Freddie McGregor]'s »Bobby Babylon«, Alton Ellis »I'm Still in Love with You«, the Cables »Baby Why« and also Marcia Griffiths hit song »Feel Like Jumping«.


In 1968 Mittoo moved from Jamaica to Toronto Canada. He still returned to Kingston regularly working with Coxsone. In Toronto Mittoo worked for the Canadian Talent Library, an organization which worked to ensure that a sufficient amount of Canadian music was broadcast on the national radio airwaves. In 1972 he had lived in Canada for four years making his work qualified as Canadian content, so for the Canadian Talent Library he recorded the album Reggae Magic ans also releasing the hit »Wish Bone«. During his time in Canada he would also work with Jerry Brown of Summer Records and other Canadian based musicians. Jackie would also work extensively with the Toronto-based studio Great Shakes appearing on numerous productions recorded in the studio.


During the mid 70's Mittoo would also travel to England to record a series of album for Bunny Lee. He would also work regularly with Sugar Minott the next decade.


In 1989 Jackie Mittoo joined the reunited Skatalites but due to health problems he couldn't stay in the group. He also recorded an album for Lloyd Barnes - Wild Jockey - released on Barnes' Wackies label.


The 16th of December in 1990 Jackie Mittoo died of cancer.


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