The late Jamaican producer extraordinaire Clement “Coxsone” Dodd is today probably best remembered for his recordings with the likes of The Skatalites, The Heptones and Bob Marley & The Wailers along with countless of others that started their recording career at his famous Studio One studio in the mid to late 60s.
But Coxsone Dodd started his career already in the 50s and recorded music well before ska and reggae. And his pre-reggae productions are now showcased on Soul Jazz’ monumental collection Coxsone’s Music: The First Recordings of Sir Coxsone the Downbeat 1960-62, a fascinating set featuring over two and half hours of early Jamaican proto-ska, rhythm and blues, jazz, Rastafari and gospel music.
The tunes collected, which clearly reflect the influences from shuffling U.S. rhythm and blues and jump jazz, were recorded in the years before Coxsone Dodd launched the mighty Studio One Records and are now brought together for the first time ever. And some of Jamaica’s most successful musicians and artists – including Don Drummond, Roland Alphonso, Ernest Ranglin and Derrick Harriott – are captured in their formative early years.
Coxsone Dodd was, along with Ken Khouri and Stanley Motta, one of the pioneers of the Jamaican recording industry and his story has been well-documented over the years, particularly by labels such as Soul Jazz and Heartbeat. But his earliest recordings haven’t received as much attention. Fortunately that has now been adjusted thanks to this thorough compilation, an album that also comes with excellent track-by-track liner notes by Studio One historian Rob Chapman.