Don Drummond - Don Cosmic
(Studio One / Yep Roc)
At this point, the history of the Skatalites has been well documented. They’re credited as the founders of ska but they also backed nearly all the early Studio One recordings while releasing an amazing run of singles in their own right. Tommy McCook and Roland Alphonso, (both on tenor), were in many ways the driving force of the band but the heart and soul was clearly with the gifted trombonist Don Drummond.
His compositions for the band where in many ways, the standout tracks cut at Studio One. His songs were complex, patient and were unique for the space they allowed the other members of the band. His melodies were often sinister and nasty in their attack favoring minor keys but also showed off his jazz technique that he honed in his early days at Alpha Boys School.
His life turned out to be tragic though. He was rumored to be schizophrenic and it came to a head on New Years Day, 1965 when he murdered his longtime girlfriend. He was ruled to be criminally insane and was sent to Bellevue asylum in Kingston where he died four years later, from causes that were dubious to say the least.
Drummond has never been extensively catalogued and Studio One’s new reissue series in doing some justice in that regard. Don Cosmic chronicles some of his great recordings along with a bunch of takes and songs never before compiled. All the tracks have been remastered and comes with some nice background info discussing his legacy. All in all a great entry point to one of the true legends of Jamaican music. (Dom)
Check out a track here.