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Jackie Mittoo

Although he never achieved the same fame as his peers — a group that includes Augustus Pablo and Tommy McCook — the late Jackie Mittoo (1948-1990) was a major player in the history of reggae, rock steady, and ska. Mittoo was an ace on the keyboards, a charter member of the seminal Skatalites, a performer on recordings with luminaries Bob Marley and Mikey Dread, and the occasional singer/bandleader. His fabulously rare Wishbone album from 1971, recorded in Toronto, makes its CD debut thanks to the Light in the Attic label. Purists beware — Wishbone is a half-instrumental mix of reggae (more rock steady/pop than roots), melodious Gamble & Huff/Philly soul, and funky, deep-groove instrumentals. Mittoo pours his sumptuous organ work on soulfully thick, singing in a clearly enunciated, mellow baritone. Highlights include "Grand Funk," which sounds like MFSB meets Funkadelic, and the wistful, Soul Train-circa-'71-to-Jamaica (dig this title) "La-La Girls and Cha-Cha Boys."

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