Tommy McCook / March 3, 1927 - May 5, 1998

The great Cuban-born saxophonist Tommy McCook came out of the important Kingston JA-based Alpha Boys School (home to many great Jamaican musicians) and worked on a gazillion sessions of ska, reggae, jazz, rocksteady and soul, and was a founding (and long-time) member of The Skatalites (along with Jackie Mittoo--whose born day is also today). He was Musical Director for The Supersonics and cut a few sides under his own name, as well as the band backing singers like Alton Ellis, Justin Hinds and others.

A lyrical tenor player, he cited John Coltrane as one of his biggest influences. Early on he played jazz and worked with the spiritual group Count Ossie & the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari. He spent some time in the mid-'50s in the Bahamas working with Ernest ranglin. Aside from his work with nearly every notable Jamaican artist and producer (including Bunny Lee, Coxone Dodd, Duke Reid, Yabby You, Glenn Brown, etc), he also recorded a few albums under the direction of Herbie Mann.

Here is a YouTube stream of the entire Blood & Fire collection of some great late '70s recordings McCook made for the Grove Music label:

Tagged: Blood & Fire, Celebrate Icons, classic albums, dub, jazz, reeds, reggae, rocksteady, ska, Skatalites, Studio 1, Tommy McCook

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