Jackie Mittoo – The Keyboard King at Studio One

You like funky hammond organ?

I know I do, and while most will acknowledge the likes of Booker T,  Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff…few know about their Jamaican counterpart Jackie Mitoo.  This is another of those magical Soul Jazz reissues that I can’t get enough of, and since much of Mittoo’s early work is hard to come by and most has never been remastered, this album serves as a fitting tribute to a real musical giant.

Mitto grew up in Kingston, Jamaica and was a gifted piano protege.  By age 14 he was already playing sessions for the Studio One label.  The the late 60’s he formed The Skatalites, one of the most influential bands in Reggae history, and was leading the house band for Studio One as well as Treasure Isle and Top Deck.  If you own any reggae from that era, most likely it’s got Jackie’s sound all over it.  And what a sound it is.

It’s not just Reggae or Ska, Mittoo’s compositions have a much warmer jazz feel to them while also incorporating a lot of soul influence as well.  His recordings all have a smooth buttery feel to them that’s just awesome.  If you want a soundtrack to your summer, this is it.

Soul Jazz did an excellent job of picking out the brightest  points of Mittoo’s career here, from the long and stirring ‘Oboe’ to the smooth covers of ‘Summer Breeze’ and ‘Norwegian Wood’ (titled Darker Than Black on the album.) And while this isn’t really one of his original albums ( find ‘Macka Fat’ if you can) it stands on it’s own in terms of content and consistency.  Below, a little video for ‘Juice Box.’

Now how can you beat that?



2 Responses to “Jackie Mittoo – The Keyboard King at Studio One”

  1. December 2, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    I just wanted to let you know that I completely agree with your critique of the Keyboard King album. I stumbled on to it through “Stereo Freeze” and recently got hold of the entire album. It is an unknown (at least it seems that way) masterpiece.

    It seems that on many blog sites Mittoo is pigeonholed with a reggae tag. When you listen to this album, as you point out, it is so much more.

    As an interesting parallel to Jackie’s cover of Norwegian Wood, I’d highly recommend checking out Booker T’s “McLemore Avenue” http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000UBLP6C/ref=sr_f2_album_13?ie=UTF8&child=B000UBJW12&qid=1228280972&sr=102-13

    It is Booker T’s 1969 tribute album to Abbey Road. If you haven’t heard it, the Amazon MP3 download site has samples.

    Anyway, all the best,


  2. December 3, 2008 at 7:20 am

    Thanks Jason! New recommendations are always welcome! Especially Booker T recommendations!

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