This morning at Flea Market Funk we are taking a soulful Jamaican stroll with one Donat Roy Mitto aka Jackie Mittoo. I’ve written about him before, and today I was feeling the spirit of Jamaican music, so here he is again. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to grab some of his original JA pressing records in the field, and while grabbing some records for a mix I figured I’d highlight a side that I play out early on in my sets, “Earthquake” by this legendary keyboard king. I think what really draws me to Mittoo is the way he infuses a bunch of styles into his playing. He is soulful and funky, but then adds all the elements of a good Reggae track into it as well. He could be infusing it with a little R & B, but it can still be Dub or Rocksteady. It’s his interpretation as well as a signature sound. Whether it’s a keyboard, piano, organ or “string machine”, Mittoo is one of the best. The organ itself is a special instrument. You can choose to use a bass player or not (Jackie did with the help of who else? Robert Shakespare), and while Jackie surrounded himself with top Jamaican musicians, he could easily have stood alone with the instrument and still sound good! Thankfully, he enlisted players like Sly Dunbar, Tommy McCook, Earl Smith, Bobby Ellis and others aka The Aggrovators at King Tubby’s to back him up on this record. What’s interesting is that most of the copies of this LP are on Justice/ Basement (#BSMT 0010), and this copy says strictly Third World (#TWS 931) on the label, so it looks to be on a few different imprints. His name is spelled wrong (Mitto), but the graphic design (what little there is) is really minimal but cool at the same time.
Mittoo is interesting, as he was one of the founding members of the Skatalites, as well as an influential player (mentoring countless Jamaican musicians), musical director at Studio One, contributed to many 60’s and 70’s Jamaican hits, and eventually would relocate to Toronto, CA to play music while also working for the Canadian Talent Library. Unfortunately, Mittoo left us way too soon, dying of cancer in 1990. However, his playing is on a multitude of records, almost every Studio One record that was made when he was there he had a hand in or played on, and has influenced songs (Frankie Paul’s “Pass the Tu Sheng Peng” and the Wailers “Duppy Conqueror” to name a few) and artists to this day. He even gave the grand daddy of them all: Sir David “Ram Jam” Rodigan his nickname, the music is that good. So it back and enjoy the keyboard king Jackie Mittoo this AM. This man was a legend and his groove lives on.
Download Jackie Mittoo “Earthquake” here.