Support Alpha Boys home Jamaica. Est. 1880
Come on board and support the greatest music institution of Jamaica, Your support will be highly appreciated for this historical institution.
Support Alpha Institute, which started in the 1880, to continue the tradition of caring for the underprivileged youths, to make a better place for learning and to let this great institution works be known. Alpha Boys’ School has produced great musicians like Roland Alphonso, Rico, Don Drummond from the internationally known Skatalite Band and Yellowman to name a few, (see artists/musicians who attended alpha below page).
Remember you will find at least one Alpha boy in any Jamaican band. (Learn more about Alpha – Watch the video below page)
We know the importance of Alpha Institute to the advancement of Jamaican culture, with music being a significant part, recently the living area of the school was closed and a new innovative music and vocational two year-skills training program was started.
This is a part of the reason why we at Denmark Support Alpha Boys would like to help the Alpha Institute with a support project within our Jamaica 54th Independence Celebration, allowing the Scandinavians who love and work with Jamaican culture to come on board and support.
We plan to ask for donations in the repairing of the music building, salaries for teachers and equipment for the studio from Scandinavian’s organizations, companies, music venues, reggae dj’s /sound systems and artists/bands who have worked with and made a success from Jamaican music and culture. We intend to do several supporting stage shows cultural and family events for adults & children. All ticket sales, revenue from these shows will go to the Alpha Institute minus expenses.
This Supporting project is 100% legal and transparent. We have registered this project with the Danish Fundraising Board who have reviewed and made their approval http://www.indsamlingsnaevnet.dk/.
Send your support to Danskebank account Regnr. 3361 Konto nr. 3361869664
Alpha is known for being a premiere source of jazz, ska and rocksteady musicians before becoming a cradle of reggae. Jazz pioneers, ska originators, reggae icons and a dancehall king have attended Alpha since the music program began in 1892.
Alpha students have been nominated for a Grammy (Yellowman), starred in Rockers (Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace), played with The Beatles and Rolling Stones (Edward ‘Tan Tan’ Thornton) and hailed by Miles Davis (Dizzy Reece). Sister Mary Ignatius Davies is often associated with the impact of Alpha’s music students.
See most great musicians/artists who attended Alpha
The Skatalites began performing in Jamaica in May 1964. The group was so hot that their first rehearsal became a show. So many people had lined up outside the venue, they decided to just charge admission and let everybody in! They were the top musicians on the island at the time, having come together after playing in different bands and on various recording sessions. These records were made to be played at the many competing sound systems around the island. The band became legendary, backing all the developing artists of the day, such as Toots and The Maytals, Prince Buster and “The Wailing Wailers” featuring Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. These groups were all recording on the new beat called ska, which had an infectious rhythm that was catching on like wildfire.
Eventually, the beat slowed down into rocksteady, and then reggae. This wildfire spread unstoppably around the world, developing into a huge musical tree with many stylistic branches, including lovers rock, dub, dancehall/ ragga, ska-punk,, and others. Hugely popular groups, like The Police, The Clash, The Specials, The English Beat, Sublime and No Doubt, all have their roots firmly planted in the music of The Skatalites. Since reforming after an almost 20 year hiatus in 1983, and beginning regular touring as a unit in 1989, they have not stopped thrilling audiences in every corner of the globe. Even after 48 years, and various lineup changes as members leave one stage for another, the band continues to perform and record new music in the inimitable Jamaican style, like only they can. The road has been long and hard, and sadly, seen most of the original members pass on. Often asked “when will you stop?” and “how do you keep doing it after all these years?”, the answer is simple: never – It’s the love of the music and the way our fans respond that keep us going Forward! Featuring original alto sax man Lester “Ska” Sterling and vocalist Doreen Shaffer, along with the current lineup of outstanding musicians they have chosen to accompany them, the band proudly presents live the music of Jamaican Ska. Forever indebted to the inspiration and talent of Roland Alphonso, Lloyd Brevett, Don Drummond, Jerome “jah jerry” Haynes, Lloyd Knibb, Tommy McCook, Donat “Jackie” Mittoo, John “Dizzy Johnny”Moore, and Lester Sterling, collectively known as The Skatalites.
Felix “Deadly Headley” Bennett – Internationally renowned Jamaican saxophonist played for “Studio One Band” as a featured saxophonist. This band was primarily responsible for dozens of the greatest Reggae songs of all time. They backed every great artist of the ’70’s, including: The Wailers, Freddie McGregor, Dennis Brown, and Gregory Isaacs etc. Headley Bennett received the Order of Distinction for the Government of Jamaica for his contribution to Jamaica music and entertainment.
His first solo album (35 Years from Alpha) refers to the fact that the album was recorded 35 years after he left the world renowned and prestigious Alpha Boys’ School in Kingston Jamaica, recognizing the fact that Alpha Boys School is the cradle for instrumental music in Jamaica.
“I wish to thank and make special mention of The Alpha Boys School, in Kingston, Jamaica, which is historically known for producing many of the countries most famed reggae stars… They did so much for me…”
– ‘Deadly’ Headley Bennett.
Joseph “JO-JO” Bennett officially began his musical career at the age of 10 when he enrolled at Alpha Boys’ School in Kingston, Jamaica to begin formal studies in Jazz and the Classics. He began playing the drums but made a voluntary switch soon after to playing the trumpet. He became very proficient in musical theory in general and a long time before graduation he was allowed by the Institution to instruct new arrivals in musical theory and practice.
After graduation he played as lead trumpeter with the Jamaica Military Band for quite a while. His classical music involvement fter training was short as JO-JO was being aggressively pursued to perform on the Pop Circuit by the Caribbean leading orchestras. JO-JO Bennett left the Military Band to perform on Jamaica’s North Coast but was courted by the island’s leading orchestra Byron Lee & the Dragonnaires and he ecorded several albums with them before choosing to stay in Canada after the group’s impressive show at Expo 67.
Once settled in Toronto, JO-JO organized his first Canadian performing group called “The Fugitives” whose home base was the West Indian Federation Club in Toronto. In the seventies and eighties Bennett was involved in many musical venture in Canada (Toronto) and was the prime mover behind the establishment of the first (and only) Black controlled music school. At this time instructions in the Reggae music genre was introduced under his tutelage. In 1970 while on hiatus in his homeland Jamaica, Bennett released his first and only album “Groovey Joe” while performing live and doing studio work for numerous record companies.
He had several single disc hits while at home, his most memorable “Leaving Rome” thus establishing his talent on an international level. He returned to Canada in the late seventies and shortly after in 1979 registered his music label “BUNJO”. JO-JO Bennett is currently the leader (Guru) of the Toronto based Pop-Reggae band “The Sattalites”, a band that is the winner of numerous music awards including a Juno in 1990. A ‘rabble-rouser’ as he as been dubbed by music critics, this entertainer still has the exuberance and charm of a youth just discovering music. To meet and talk with the veteran off stage however, he provides no insight at all as to his on stage ‘rabble rousing’, he becomes deeply introverted and on-exhibitionist. If asked about his plans for the future he states “I just take it one day at a time.”
Cedric “Im” Brooks (1943 – 3 May 2013) was a Jamaican saxophonist and flautist known for his solo recordings and as a member of The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, The Sound Dimensions, The Light of Saba, and The Skatalites. Brooks became a pupil at the renowned Alpha Boys School aged 11, where he learned music theory and clarinet. In his late teens he took up tenor saxophone and flute.
Brooks was a member of groups such as The Vagabonds and the Granville Williams Band in the early 1960s, but it would be the late 1960s when he would find his first major commercial success, as part of a duo with trumpeter David Madden, Im & David. The duo released a series of instrumental singles for Clement “Coxsone” Dodd’s Studio One label. Brooks also became a regular studio musician at the Brentford Road studio, playing on many recording sessions, and released several solo singles in the early 1970s.
In 1970 he first teamed up with Rastafarian drummer Count Ossie, releasing tracks such as “So Long Rastafari Calling”, “Black is Black”, and “Give Me Back My Language and Culture” as Im and Count Ossie. The pair would later form The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, with Brooks acting as musical director and leader of the horn section. From this collaboration resulted the triple LP-Set Grounation. Brooks left in 1974 to form a new band, the Divine Light (later called The Light of Saba). After a single, “Demauungwani”, the group recorded their first album for the Institute of Jamaica, From Mento to Reggae to
Third World Music, a collection exploring the history of Jamaican music, incorporating mento, junkanoo, ska, rocksteady, and reggae. The band made two further albums of jazz-influenced Rastafarian reggae, The Light of Saba and The Light of Saba in Reggae, before Brooks left, again going solo with his 1977 album, Im Flash Forward, featuring Studio One rhythms from the early 1970s, and regarded as one of the greatest Jamaican instrumental albums. The following year, Brooks assembled a new band of musicians to record the United Africa album.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Brooks released a few singles but largely worked as a session musician. In particular, he worked with Carlos Malcolm in San
Diego, California, in 1998 as part of a 20-piece ska and mento orchestra known as “Zimbobway’s King Kingston Orchestra”. These albums featured Im both on saxophone and percussion in many of the 24 recordings. In 1999, after the death of Rolando Alphonso, former saxophonist of the Skatalites, Brooks joined the band.
Brooks died on 3 May 2013 after suffering a cardiac arrest
Glen DaCosta has loved music all of his life and has had the opportunity to play music with many renowned artists throughout the years including Bob Marley, Gladys Knight and the Pips, UB 40, Lou Ralls, Alpha Blondy, Ray Goodman, Burning Spear, Bunny Wailer, and many, many others.
Glen spent a good part of his life playing sax for Bob Marley and the Wailers, touring all over the world when Bob was at his peak. Glen got to spend some good quality time with Bob while on tour and recording with him in the studio playing songs or the Legend album, Kaya and many more.
Ruben Delgado was an outstanding clarinettist in the Caribbean and the band master of the first Alpha Boys’ School band formed in the 1890’s after the school was founded in 1880.
Lennie Hibbert succeeded Ruben Delgado as Band Master in 1955.
Don Drummond was a Jamaican ska trombonist and composer. He was one of the original members of The Skatalites, and composed many of their tunes.He was educated at Kingston’s Alpha Boys School, where he later taught his younger schoolmate Rico Rodriguez to play the trombone.
His musical career began in 1950 with the Eric Dean’s All-Stars. He continued into the 1960s with others, including Kenny Williams. With the birth of ska Don joined The Skatalites. With Drummond’s politicized conversion to the Rastafari movement, other band members followed his lead.
Bobby Ellis born 2 July 1932, is a Jamaican trumpet player. Ellis first took up the trumpet in 1941 at the Alpha Boys’ School. Ellis started recording at Studio One in the early 1960s; he remembers his first time on record being his own composition, Cyrus, with the Mighty Vikings band before going on to work on hit songs by The Wailers (Lonesome Feeling), There’s a Reward (Joe Higgs) and I’ve Got to Go Back Home by Bob Andy. Most of Ellis’ time at Studio One was spent as horn arranger. After leaving Clement Dodd’s studio, Ellis became a part of Trinidadian guitarist Lynn Taitt’s band, The Jets, which also included fellow Alpharians saxophonists Headley “Deadly Headley” Bennett. Ellis’ reputation as a trumpeter and arranger had grown by the dawn of the 1970s when reggae was growing in stature. It was during this period that some of his best work can be heard, particularly on Burning Spear’s landmark Marcus Garvey and Man in The Hills.
He has worked with many reggae artists including Peter Tosh, Burning Spear, and The Revolutionaries.
Ellis attended the Alpha Boys’ School which is famous for its musical alumni. While at this school Ellis received tuition on the trumpet and flugelhorn. The school’s music curriculum consisted of marches, waltzes and classical pieces which gave Ellis an extensive knowledge of timing, harmony and form. These factors have contributed to his work as a horn arranger for the Studio One (record label).
Winston Foster, A.K.A. King Yellowman a graduate of the Alpha Boys’ School, has an incredible history in Reggae music. His upbringing at the Maxfield Home orphanage in Kingston and being albino in Jamaica were two obstacles the he overcame and went on to be (at one time) the biggest reggae artist since Bob Marley.
After winning a talent contest at Tastee Patties in Kingston, Yellow went on to excite reggae crowds all over Jamaica and the rest of the world. His ability to ride rhythm and excite a crowd made Yellow an instant hit in Jamaica. He also began to work with the Ace Sound System in St. Thomas and drew big crowds at his dancehall performances. Later in his career, Yellow began to spread out and work for a number of different producers, sometimes releasing as many as five albums per year. This led to a recording contract with CBS Records. Yellowman recorded one album with them before he was diagnosed with jaw cancer and was given six months to live. This was in 1986. After surgery an extended leave of absence from the record industry, Yellowman began his comeback with the song “Blueberry Hill”, and his career was re-launched. His first album for RAS came from producer Phillip ‘Fatis’ Burrell and was called “Yellow Like Cheese”. Coincidentally this was the start of a long and fruitful relationship with RAS and Yellowman and also RAS and ‘Fatis’ and his exterminator production. Yellowman has always been very professional to work with and always a respectful and reliable human being. He has managed to outlive his predicted fate of death and his performances are incredibly lively as he seems to have an unlimited amount of stage energy.
Vin Gordon a.k.a. Trommie, Don D. Junior Vin Gordon aka Trommie, Don D. Junior, born Aug. 4, 1949, in Jamaica is a gradudate of the worlds legendary Alpha Boys’ School in Kingston Jamaica, where he learned to play trombone and string bass by his talented music tutor the late Lennie Hibbert OD, and other students of the school band. After graduating from Alpha Boys’ School he played with the Salvation Army band for a while in Montego Bay before he joined his other fellow schoolmates such as Headly Bennett, Cedric Brroks, Bobby Ellis and the notorious Leroy “Hourse-Mouth” Wallace etc., at Studio One and become a part of awell known backing band where he backed all the famous Jamaican artist from the Wailers to Burning Spare during the rock steady and reggae span.
While living in the UK, he played and toured with the Wailers band for five years and work and toured with Aswad. He is best known in the UK for his hit tune “Warrior Charge” with Aswad band. While in the UK Vin Gordon also work with his schoolmate, record producer and song writer Mr. Milton Morris Moore of M&M MUSIC, Vin Gordon’s album “The Melody Moods of Vin Gordon” is one of the many project he did with M&M MUSIC, Vin Gordon is currently working on new materials with Alpharian producer Milton Morris Moore aka “Country Bop” of M&M MUSIC, Vin Gordon also now works and tours with the Skatalites.
Mr. Vin Gordon is a representative and member of the Alpha Old Boys Association.
Owen Gray, born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1939, was a child prodigy and one of the top-ranked singers in Reggae’s early days. In 1959, Coxsone Dodd produced Gray’s hit “On the Beach”, one of the first songs lauding the sound system. Hit after hit followed like “Please Don’t Let Me Go”, “Runnin Round”, “Jezebel”, “Patricia”, and Mash It”.
In 1960, Chris Blackwell (Island Records) began his new label by signing Owen Gray. Gray was indeed one of the leading artist lights throughout this exhilarating decade in Reggae’s history. Like Don Drummond, Tommy McCook, Lester Sterling and others, Gray was a multi-instrumental (drums, guitar, piano) graduate of the famous Alpha School music program. He was the pianist on The Folkes Brothers’ original recording of “Oh Carolina” produced by Prince Buster and was a featured musician on several other significant pre-Ska recordings. But it’s Gray’s rare vocal quality that raised the standard for future generations of Reggae singers like Desmond Dekker, Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff.
Influences from American R&B, Soul, and Gospel can be heard in Gray’s eloquent vocal delivery. Recording with the Skatalites or the Caribs, Gray demonstrated his mastery of a wide range of singing styles whether teaming up with Ska icon Little Millie (of “My Boy Lollipop” fame) or delivering the profoundly moving “Sinners Gonna Weep”. Gray moved to the UK in 1962, continuing to record in Jamaica through each new phase of the development of Reggae. In the 1970s he became known for his Lover’s Rock and Roots Reggae sound, the creative vision behind the ‘stick by me’ riddim and went into the studio with inspired Dub producers Sly and Robbie resulting in the classic “Sly and Robbie present Owen Gray on Top” album. In the 1980’s he recorded with several labels including Trojan and recently Trojan/Sanctuary released “Shook, Shimmy and Shake”, a 2 CD compilation featuring Gray’s greatest recorded gems.
Reportedly the last singer still performing from Jamaica’s pre-Ska period, Gray continually brings the house down at festivals, concerts and club engagements in North America and UK/Europe.
Tony Greene’s musical taste and style as a saxophonist, producer and arranger should come as no surprise to anyone who know Jamaicans Musicians, like Tommy McCook, ‘Deadly’ Headley Bennett, Cedric “Im” Brooks and Lester Sterling, Tony Greene’s Life has been one long musical journey. Greene’s formative years where he learned and developed his musical skills was at world renowned and famous Alpha Boys’ School and the musical influences of that experience provided him with a very real sense of style and originality. That you only get from an ALPHARIAN musician his horn technique is typically the style of a ALPHARIAN he blow a Mean Groovy Rocking Sax like Richard “Dirty Harry” Hall and Tommy McCook.
Greene spent a six-year stint in the Jamaica Military Band. In the military, Greene fine-tuned the practical side of his craft at the Royal College of Music in London where composers Trevor Sharpe and Henry Mancini were among his tutors. Mr. Greene, embracing the pop culture in Jamaica, first joined the Bare Essentials Band before moving on to the jazz-based Sonny Bradshaw Seven. After a stint with Bradshaw, Greene again switched gears to the roots movement when he signed up with the Roots Radics unit who were then backing singer Gregory Isaacs. But it was with Lloyd Parkes and We The People Band that Greene has made most impact. As part of singer Dennis Brown’s official band, Greene has helped to break reggae in areas where the music was unknown – from Greece to the South Pacific and beyond.
While working on his own albums he still found time to record with other artistes including the renowned Riddim Twins, Sly and Robbie, on whose Grammy-winning “Friends” album he played. Some of Greene’s albums are Mean Greene, Grooving Sax, Evolution and Square from Cuba.
Denver Smith, aka Feluke, was first a Master Percussionist before adding composer, songwriter, producer and singer to his credits. Feluke has performed on albums for Grammy winners Stephen Marley (“Mind Control (Acoustic)” and “The Revelation Pt. 1”) and Damian Marley and currently tours with Kymani Marley and Jah Cure.
Tony Gregory was born June 21, 1926 and attended the Alpha Boys’ School until 1954 and in 1958 turned professional playing with Big Band Bertie King. Tony toured through Central America, The Bahamas, USA, Canada, Germany and the UK, then moved back to Jamaica setting up his publishing company “Sunland Music” and entertainment company, “Gregory Entertainment Limited’. Tony now concentrates on controlling music copyrights, not only songs that he composed himself but also from other composers. Tony also has a publishing company in Germany, TeeGee Songs which he has had from 1976. After not performing for some time, Tony is now doing Shows again both in Jamaica and Overseas.
Click here to read an article about Tony Gregory from Jamaica Observer.
Douglas Guthrie was born in 1965 and studied at the Alpha Boys’ School in Kingston, JA.
A notable saxaphone player, Guthrie was part of The Nails in the late 70’s and 80’s, a 6 piece new wave band signed to RCA, and is an original member of the Inner Circle band.
Joe Harriott’s music goes virtually unheard today, yet the alto saxophonist exerted a powerful influence on early free jazz in England. The Jamaican-born and raised Harriott played with his countrymen, trumpeter Dizzy Reece and tenor saxophonist Wilton “Bogey” Gaynair, before emigrating to England in 1951. In London, Harriott worked freelance and in the band of trumpeter Pete Pitterson.In 1954, he landed an important gig with drummer Tony Kinsey; the next year he played in saxophonist Ronnie Scott’s big band. His first album as a leader was 1959’s Southern Horizon. Originally a bop-oriented player, Harriott gradually grew away from the conventions of that style. During a 1960 hospital stay, Harriott envisaged a new method of improvisation that, to an extent, paralleled the innovations of Ornette Coleman. Harriott was initially branded a mere imitator of Coleman, but close listening to both men reveals distinct differences in their respective styles. Harriott manifested a more explicit philosophical connection with bebop, for one thing, and his music was more concerned with ensemble interaction than was Coleman’s early work. The 1960 album Free Form, which included trumpeter Shake Keane, pianist Pat Smythe, bassist Coleridge Goode, and drummer Phil Seaman, illustrated Harriott’s new techniques.Beginning in 1965, he began fusing jazz with various types of world folk musics. He collaborated with Indian musician John Mayer on a record — 1967’s Indo-Jazz Suite — that utilized modal nd free jazz procedures. The album’s traditional jazz quintet instrumentation was augmented by a violin, sitar, tambura, and tabla. Harriott’s recorded output was scarce and virtually none of it remains in print.Click here to read an article about Harriott’s daughter Amber Harvey’s moving and emotional visit to the Alpha Boys’ School.
Leonard Aloysius Hibbert, popularly known as “Lennie”, popularized the Vibes in Jamaica. He was born in Mavis Bank, Jamaica on November 12, 1928.
His interest in music started at the early age of 2 when he devised a little drum from an empty pan. Later at the age of six the local Salvation Army allowed him to play on their drums. At the age of eight years he went to Alpha Boy’s School and after some time joined the school band where he was placed on his ‘old love’, the drums. After leaving school in 1944 he played in several small orchestras and finally joined the Military Band in 1946. It was during his time in the Military Band that he taught himself the Vibes. He returned to Alpha and was Band Master there in the late fifties, where Floyd Lloyd and Vin Gordon were among his students. In 1976 he was awarded the Order of Distinction (O.D.) for his contribution to music on the island and for his work among the youth. He was tirelessly helpful to young people, getting them involved in music, dance, acting, and organized sport.
Lennie Hibbert died in the early eighties.
Bertie King (19 – 1973) Clarinetist and saxophonist Bertie King, like many Alpharian musicians after him such as Joe Harriot, Harold McNair and Dizzy Reece, King originally had to flee Jamaica simply to make a living playing music. His arrival in England in the ’30s came at a time when there were few black musicians playing jazz in England and Europe. Bertie King, earliest studies as a musician were at the world renowned and respected Alpha Boys’ School in Kingston Jamaica, the training ground of so many of the world’s best known jazz musicians.
King played clarinet, alto and tenor saxophone and was an extraordinary arranger. King played on British piano legend George Shearing’s first recording and also played and recorded with Coleman Hawkins and Benny Carter. After performing with many of the top calypsonians in Britain, King returned to Jamaica in the late 1950s where he was a pioneer radio orchestra participant at the then Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC), and found the connections he had made in Europe to be quite valuable in helping to jump-start what would develop into a wildly active music scene in Jamaica.
If the name Bertie King comes up in connection with the history of the United Kingdom, chances are good the average citizen will think the subject under discussion is King George VI, known to his cronies as “Bertie.” Ask a fan of jazz or Jamaican music, on the other hand, and the reference couldn’t possibly be to anyone else but the clarinetist and saxophonist Bertie King, of major importance in his homeland as well as in England. His arrival in England in the ’30s came at a time when there were few, if any, black musicians playing jazz there. Bandleaders such as Leslie Hutchinson made rich use of this small-scale migration from the West Indies. King also blew up a storm in the context of European jazz players such as the great guitarist Django Reinhardt as well as with Americans who toured and recorded abroad, including Benny Carter and Nat Gonella. King returned to Jamaica in 1951 and found the connections he had made in Europe to be quite valuable in helping to jump-start what would develop into a wildly active music scene on the island nation.
His recordings of “Don’t Fence Her In” and “Glamour Girl” that year were some of the first in the mento style, featuring instruments such as guitar, banjo, hand drums, penny whistle, bamboo saxophone, steel drums, and the so-called “rhumba box,” kind of a massive thumb piano that would play the basslines. In the early days of mento there were no pressing plants whatsoever in Jamaica and it was apparently King who arranged for these first commercial recordings of Jamaican music to be manufactured at a factory in Lewisham, England, that was owned by Decca. This practice of pressing Jamaican records in England continued for some time.
An even heavier presence by King in the nation’s music came about in the early ’50s, when the then-current Prime Minister ordered the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation to install a permanent studio band. King was the first leader of this outfit which eventually grew to 14 pieces, involving great Jamaican players such as guitarist Ernest Ranglin and bassist Tommy Mowatt. King made many recordings with this group, most often called Bertie King’s Royal Jamaicans and also worked with the West Indian Swing Stars. As a jazz player, King managed to play on an average of at least one release every year between the mid-’30s and 1967. His earliest studies were at the Alpha Boys’ School in Kingston, the training ground of so many of the country’s best musicians that it eventually turned part of its facilities over to the creation of a small museum — which appropriately has King’s original saxophones on exhibit.
David Madden born in 1943, has been around the musical globe and back. An old Alpha boy and past Jamaica Military Band member, Madden has “played with and supported everyone” from the Skatalites to Lucky Dube, Bounty Killer to Gilberto Gil, Bob Andy, Los Caballeros and Jimmy Cliff. He was a member of the legendary Zap Pow, known for songs like Mystic Mood, This Is Reggae Scandal Corner and Sweet Loving Love.
“When I come to play music, I leave my airs behind. [In this group] I feel like a musician – good.” he said.
David Madden has been around for many years in the Jamaican music business – composing, arranging, singing, and playing the trumpet. Look on the CD’s and LP’s of these Jamaican stars… Bob Marley & the Wailers, Ernie Ranglin, Freddie McGregor, Jimmy Cliff, Burning Spears, Bob Andy, Peter Tosh, Beres Hammond, Ziggy Marley, Dawn Penn’s ‘No, No, No’, Dennis Brown, Sean Paul… just to name a few… and his name appears.
David began playing the trumpet at Alpha Boys’ School. By age 17, he joined the Jamaica Military Band, then on to the Jamaican entertainment pop scene. His trumpet and musical skill have truly helped to create some of the most memorable ska, rocksteady, reggae and dance hall music in Jamaican history.
David teamed with saxophonist Cedric “Im” Brooks as the duo Im and David to record for the legendary
producer Sir Coxon Dodd at the famous Studio One. Two significant compositions “Money Maker” and “Candy Eye” became smash hits landing at number one (1) and number ten (10) respectively on the Jamaican charts.
David then went on to become a co-founder of the progressive-reggae group, Zap Pow for which he penned another chart-topper “Mystic Mood” that catapulted the group into stardom. Other hits were to follow such as “Tonight We Love”, “Scandal Corner”, “This is Reggae Music”, and “Sweet Loving Love”. While with Zap Pow, David Madden, as a studio musician, is featured on at least 19 of Bob Marley’s hit songs, and was a floor member of the Wailers in 1982-83 when Zap Pow disbanded.
“David Madden is one of Jamaica’s most celebrated hornsmen and, as a trumpeter, there are few in his class. A best of… album from such a virtuoso, therefore, requires no platitude”, journalist Andrew Clunis once wrote.
Although trained as a drummer, Sparrow can regularly be seen with the Alpha Boys Band playing keyboards or bass
Tommy McCook was born on March 3, 1927 in Havana, Cuba (along with Roland Alphonso and Laurel Aitken) and moved to Jamaica in 1933 at the age of 6. He took up the tenor saxophone at the age of eleven, when he was a pupil at the Alpha School, and eventually joined Eric Dean’s Orchestra.
In 1954 he left for an engagement in Nassau, Bahamas, after which he ended up in Miami, Florida, and it was here that McCook first heard John Coltrane and fell in love with Jazz. McCook returned to Jamaica in early 1962, where he was approached by a few local producers to do some recordings. Eventually he consented to record a jazz session for Clement “Coxson” Dodd, which was issued on the album as “Jazz Jamaica”. His first ska recording was an adaptation of Ernest Gold’s “Exodus”, recorded in November 1963 with musicians who would soon make up the Skatalites.
During the 1960?s and 1970?s McCook recorded with the majority of prominent reggae artists of the era, working particularly with producer Bunny Lee and his
house band, The Aggrovators, as well as being featured prominently in the recordings of Yabby You and the Prophets (most notably on version sides and extended disco mixes), all while still performing and recording with the variety of line ups under the Skatalites or Supersonics names.
McCook died of pneumonia and heart failure, aged 71, on May 5, 1998.
John “Dizzy Johnny” Moore – A friend of his attended the Alpha Boys’ School, which catered for wayward boys and was renowned for its strong musical program, and impressed by his playing, Moore decided on a strategy of misbehaving to get sent there himself, which worked after (he later claimed) pulling “a couple of pranks” to show that he was “going haywire”. While at the school he took up the trumpet and studied musical composition under bandleader Ruben Delgado.
On leaving the school, he joined the army, playing in the Jamaica Military Band. He was dismissed from the army after three years on a charge of being “not amenable to military service”. He then joined the Mapletoft Poulle Orchestra, and Eric Dean’s band, but was thrown out for growing dreadlocks. He regularly visited the Rastafarian camp led by Count Ossie at Wareika Hill, and worked as a session musician in the early 1960s, and played in studio band The Cavaliers. Moore and other Cavaliers members Jackie Mittoo, Lloyd Brevett, and Lloyd Knibbs then joined with Tommy McCook in the new band The Skatalites in 1964. When the Skatalites split into two bands in 1965, Moore joined the Soul Vendors, led by Roland Alphonso. The Skatalites reformed in 1983, with many of the original members, including Moore. In October 2007, Moore was awarded the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Officer (OD) for pioneering work in popularising Jamaican music.
Moore died of colon cancer on August 16, 2008 at the age of 69.
Johnny Osbourne (born Errol Osbourne, 1948) is a popular Jamaican reggae and dancehall singer, who rose to success in the late 1970s and mid-1980s. His albumTruths and Rights was a notable roots reggae success, and featured “Jah Promise” and the album’s title track, “Truths and Rights”.
Johnny Osbourne a graduate of the world-renowned Alpha Boys School in Kingston, Jamaica, the mecca of Jamaica’s music. As a boy he grew among some of he best of Jamaica’s musical talents in Alpha Boys School. Johnny is a part of the musical fraternity that established the foundation upon which Jamaica’s dancehall/reggae music exists today, with songs like Warrior, Come Back Darling, Truth & Rights, Reasons, Jah Promise, Sing Jah Stylee, Water Pumping, Ice Cream Love, and many, many others that is appreciated by reggae music lovers all over the world.
Johnny Osbourne is ranks among Jamaica’s greasiest reggae singers of all times. This Alpharian style and voice is without equal, Johnny’s musical talents transcend generations to generations and show no signs of letting up, from soulful reggae to a massive dancehall hits, Johnny Osbourne’s voice filled with conviction and yearning is one of the Jamaica’s best artists. With more than 3 decades in the music business his voice, sound and style is distinct and fresh as ever.
Dizzy Reece was born January 5, 1931 in Kingston, Jamaica, the son of a silent film pianist. He attended the Alpha Boys School (famed in Jamaica for its musical alumni), switching from baritone to trumpet at 14.
A full-time musician from age 16, he moved to London in 1948 and spent the 1950s working in Europe, much of that time in Paris. He played with Don Byas, Kenny Clarke, Frank Foster and Thad Jones, among others. Winning praise from the likes of Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins, he emigrated to New York City in 1959, but found New York in the 1960s a struggle.
Reece recorded a series of critically acclaimed records on the Blue Note label, which were reissued on Mosaic in 2004 that gave fans hope of a comeback. Still active as a musician and writer, Reece has recorded over the years with Victor Feldman, Tubby Hayes, Paris Reunion Band, Clifford Jordan’s Big Band, tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon, fellow trumpeter Ted Curson, pianist Duke Jordan, long-time Sun Ra alumni John Gilmore and drummer Philly Joe Jones.
Rico Rodriguez (born Emmanuel Rodriguez; 1934-2015), also known as Reco or El Reco, is a ska and reggae trombonist. He is known as one of the first and most distinguished Ska artists
Rodriguez was born in Cuba and moved with his family to Jamaica at an early age. He grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, and was taught to play the trombone by his slightly older schoolmate Don Drummond at the Alpha Boys School. In the 1950s, he became a Rastafarian and became closely musically related to rasta drummer, Count Ossie. In 1961, he moved to the UK and started to play in reggae bands there. In 1976, he recorded the album, Man from Wareika under contract with Island Records. In the late 1970s, with the arrival of the 2 Tone genre, he played with ska revival bands such as The Specials. One of his most notable performances was on The Specials’ song, “A Message to You, Rudy”.
Rodriguez also helmed his own outfit, Rico and the Rudies.
Since 1996, amongst other engagements, he has played with Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra and he also performs at various ska festivals throughout Europe with his own band. He performed with Holland at Jools’ Annual Hootenanny, 2011.
He was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) at Buckingham Palace on 12 July 2007, for services to music. In October 2012 he was awarded the Silver Musgrave Medal by the Institute of Jamaica in recognition of his contribution to Jamaican music.
Floyd Lloyd Seivright founded Tropic Entertainment, Ltd. in 1970 as a music publishing company that continues to see chart successes worldwide. The company publishes over 500 titles composed and produced by new and veteran artists. A Singer/songwriter, pianist and music publisher Floyd Lloyd Seivright was born in St. Ann, Jamaica. He began his musical career at the age of twelve at the Alpha Boys’ School in Kingston Jamaica, Over the years, Floyd Lloyd has worked extensively with Rico Rodriquez. Both Rico and renowned Jamaican guitarist Ernest Ranglin are featured on many tracks of Floyd’s recent releases, most notably VILLAGE SOUL and MANGO BLUES. VILLAGE SOUL, Tropic’s instrumental album, features some of the last known performances of the late vibraphonist Lennie Hibbert.
Floyd Lloyd uniquely fuses the sounds of Ska, Reggae, and jazz like no other artist. On TEAR IT UP: The Ska Album, he recorded with musicians from New Orleans, Jamaica and London, notably The Potato 5, Red Cloud and the New Orleans Jazz Stars creating a natural marriage between New Orleans brass and Jamaican rhythms.
After living in England for 24 years, Floyd is currently residing in New York. As a veteran of Euro-reggae/ska scene, he is established as a prolific singer and composer with hits like the Mighty Diamond’s “Sweet lady” and Potato 5’s “Big City” and “Jesse Jackson”. “Floyd Lloyd and the Potato Five with Laurel Atkin” was the first ska album released on Sony Records in Japan and Asia. As well, he is featured on several compilation albums: Ska Stars of the 80’s, This is Reggae Volume 1 & 2, united Colors of Ska and KMP’s The Reggae Album.
Floyd Lloyd was the first West Indian songwriter to be exclusively signed to EMI/KPM Music Publishing, producing reggae songs for use in film and television productions. In the seventies, he founded Tropic Entertainment ltd., a music publishing company that continues to see chart successes worldwide. His catalogue includes Justin Hinds, Lennie Hibbert, Ernest Ranglin, Kareem Baaqi and himself and is administrated by Warner Chappell/Basart in Europe.
Leroy Smart was born in 1952 and orphaned aged 2. He was raised at Maxfield Park Children’s Home and educated at Alpha Boys School, where he studied singing, drums and dancing. Smart learned to sing under the tutelage of the late Alpharian Mr. Lennie Hibbert, with school mates like Richard Hall/Dirty Harry, Ervin Lloyd/Alla, Douglas Guthrie, Vin Gordon and others. His musical experience in Alpha as a boy has provide him with that distinctive vocal style that make his voice stand out among all other Jamaican singers.
Leroy Smart is a master of love songs and roots material. Smart has been on the reggae scene since the early ’70s. He was raised in Kingston’s Alpha Catholic Boys Home and began recording in the early ’70s.
Smart worked with such producers as Gussie Clarke, Joe Joe Hookin, and Bunny Lee while gaining fame for a flamboyant performance style, exceptionally anguished delivery, and penetrating vocal manner. Smart’s smashing voice often seemed about to collapse from anxiety and earnestness mid-song. He has continued to maintain his popularity, never scoring any crossover or international hits, but retaining his pull with the notoriously fickle Jamaican audience.
Lester Sterling was born January 31,1936 in Jamaica and is a graduate of the world renowned Alpha Boys’ School He is also a former member of the Jamaica Military Band.
He began his musical career as a trumpet player for the Val Bennett Band in 1957 and went on to play with Bryon Lee and the Dragonaries.
He soon picked up the Saxophone and in 1964 joined other musicians to form The Skatalites. After the Skatalites disbanded for the first time in 1965, Sterling went on to record with producer “Sir” Clancy Collins. Here he kept the traditional “Jamaican Ska” flowing that was started with The Skatalites. Sterling recorded such hits as, “Can’t Sit Down” and his version of “Afrikkan Beat.” Sterling rejoined the Skatalites when the reformed in 1984 for Reggae Sunsplash concert and has been touring and recording with them ever since. Lester Sterling was awarded the Order of Distinction on November 16, 1998 for his distinguish contribution to Jamaica’s Music.
Dr. Leslie Thompson PhD, was the first black man to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra, who had the honour of playing for Princess Alexander in London who congratulated him on his performance. He was also the first Alpha musician to have played in the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
Eddie “Tan Tan” Thornton born in Jamaica in 1932 another legendary talented Alpharian trumpeter who for years has worked with some of the best know musicians and recording artist in the UK like the legendary Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Georgie Fame, Boney M, Bob Marley, Jools Holland Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, Jazz Jamaica and the Jazz Warriors etc., etc.
Tan Tan’s trumpet technique and his creative imagination make him one of the most sought after section musicians in the UK and Europe. It is a pleasure to see and hear Tan Tan pass on some of his experience to other young musicians and recording artist. As a young musician at Alpha Boys’ School in Jamaica with his other class mates like “Little G” McNair, Rico Rodriquez, Don Drummond and others, Tan Tan has always loved Jazz.
Tan Tan is a devoted admirer of the late Sister Mary Ignatius RMS, and would tell anyone and everyone how much the late Sister Mary Ignatius was the inspirational guide and teacher who turned his life around as a child at the legendary world famed and renowned Alpha Boys’ School in Jamaica.
Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace began his career in 1964 and played with a variety of session groups including the Soul Vendors, the Sound Dimension and the Soul Brothers. These bands were frequently hired by Coxsone Dodd at Studio One and Wallace worked with luminaries such as Lee Perry and Jackie Mittoo. As Mad Roy he was one of Jamaica’s early exponents of the new DJ style alongside Dennis Alcapone, U-Roy and King Stitt.
In 1975 Wallace recorded, using the name Horsemouth, the track ‘Herb Vendor’, which was a hit for Larry Lawrence’s Ethnic Fight label. By 1976 Wallace played on sessions including Inner Circle’s Reggae Thing and demonstrated his writing ability when he penned the closing track, ‘This World’. He was also employed to play on sessions for Augustus Pablo, notably on his production of the late Hugh Mundel classic, Africa Must Be Free By 1983. The success of Jimmy Cliff in The Harder They Come inspired the filming of Theodoros Bafaloukas’ Rockers. Wallace accepted the lead role and starred alongside Richard ‘Dirty Harry’ Hall. The film was a who’s who of Jamaican reggae, featuring cameo appearances from many of the island’s top performers. In spite of the rave reviews, the film lacked the support it deserved and was not widely distributed. The legendary Jamaican One Love Peace Concert featured a personal appearance from Wallace as Jamaica’s newest film star. His celebrity status resulted in the studio bosses employing other drummers, but his fee enabled him to concentrate on his own projects. By the early 80s he had set up his own Horsemouth label and released ‘Reggae Music’ which established his resurgence as a vocalist. To promote the recording and secure a contract for his other sessions, he arrived in the UK in the autumn of 1981 and worked with Tapper Zukie, Errol Dunkley, Prince Far I and Junior Delgado. In 1982, with DJ Ranking Dread, the release of ‘If Nanny Was Here’ proved a hit in the dancehall.