A Big Band Tribute To The Skatalites

The Skatalites

It was recently brought up that maybe it was time for a new Skatalites-like band. None other than the present Alpha Boys School (the home of the original Skatalites) bandleader, Sparrow Martin, brought up his idea to recreate the legendary band using students at the school for a new generation. Sparrow and trombonist Rico then went on to discuss the history and their experiences at the school and people started talking about the possibilities.

Well we all know that Los Angeles has always had a wicked collection of musicians that hold dear the music of a young Jamaica. LA has been home to some of the greatest modern practitioners and adherents to the sounds coming from of that little island in the sun in ’64. Bands like Hepcat, Ocean 11, Los Hooligans, The Allentons, Mobtown, See Spot and artists like Joey Altruda have never hidden their love of the Ska.

Los Angeles has also been home to many JA artists through the years and played host to every artist (big & small) to plays anything close to Ska or Reggae. We have been blessed with performances from legends with everyone from The Skatalites, Big Youth, Phyllis Dillon, Eric Monty Morris, Derrick Morgan, Laurel Aitken and more recently Stranger Cole making stops here from the early 80’s to today.

It was a few years ago actually that I remember Eitan Avineri, an accomplished trumpeter having played in many of the best bands in the local scene, putting together a band to play Skatalites tunes and calling it The Kingston Ska Collective. They played a couple of gigs and I remember talking to him at that time about his plans for the project. He said he wanted to expand on the idea and really do something special with it. Get everyone he thought could make the project the best that has been heard since The Skatalites themselves did it originally and record a whole album. The concept was still in its formative stage though of course.

Flash forward a few years and it appears the project he envisioned has finally come to fruition. Eitan approached both Brian Dixon (The Aggrolites) and Brian Wallace (See Spot) with this groundbreaking concept to brainstorm and figure out how to make this become a reality. The result was a sublime all-star collective paying their respects to the legendary Jamaican outfit – The Skatalites!

They’ve already went into the studio with all the players in fact and laid down most of the tracks for the project! Just like that. This is a group of musicians that live and breath the idea and music of the band they are paying tribute to.

They’re calling the project Western Standard Time: A Big Band Tribute to the Skatalites and includes members from every significant band to play in LA scene including Jump with Joey, Hepcat, Ocean 11, See Spot, The Aggrolites, The Allentons, Kingston 10, Rhythm Doctors, Full Spectrum, Checkmate, Kingston Ska Collective, Mobtown, The Debonaires, Ozomatli, Yeska and more. If the videos below are any judge of the quality then we’re all in for a amazing sound sensation.

One is a pre-production video discussing the project’s basics and genesis with the main masterminds. The other is of the recording session itself including bits from some of the players talking about their love of the music and why they are excited about the project. In the video you get a chance to hear snippets of the band playing. Both are an amazing slice into the project and can only make anyone slightly interested in the music of Jamaica instantly interested in hearing more.



Western Standard Time is Tom Cook, Sean Billings, Kincaid A Smith, Michael King, John Butcher, Bobby Cressey, Eitan Avineri, Joey Altruda, Gil Sharone, Joseluis A. Jimenez, Ulises Bella, Korey Kingston Horn, David Ralicke, Brian Wallace, Chris Searight, Robby Spengler, Marques Crews, Brian Dixon, Tony Luna, Bill Purdy and Benny Golbin.

Western Standard Time

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I've been involved in the Los Angeles music scene since at least 1995 going to shows, promoting, spinning records and running labels. Ska and Early Reggae are my passion among other things of course.