Oswald 'Baba' Brooks

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Oswald Baba Brooks started his musical career as a trumpet player with the Ericbaba brooks Dean Orchestra in Jamaica in the 1950's. The Jamaican bands played mostly Folk, Afro, Jazz, they played at clubs, big hotels and sometimes on local radio. This was an exciting scene at the time but began to die out towards the end of the fifties. Band members began to move into the recording studios in Kingston that were emerging at the time with the advent of the Sound System. The records that were produced kept the musicians well employed. Most big bands began to die out and only a few managed to survive into the sixties and beyond. One such band was Byron Lee, they became the Islands premire band and established many talented musicians including Baba Brooks. He soon became a popular session man working for many of the top record producers and featured on many of the great Ska tracks during the golden period from 1963 - 1967. He was riding high in 63' with three hits in the Jamaican charts, Musical Communion, Bank To Bank and his version of Watermelon Man. This was a year before the Skatalites had been formed as a band, with whom he was to play on many occasions.

With Duke Reid he had many records released on his Treasure Isle/Dutchess labels. Teenage Ska was a brilliant driving ska beat track in his instrumental style. He had a habit of using a voice over intro calling out the name of the tune as on Seven Guns Alive, Girls Town Ska, Guns Fever & One Eyed Giant. On Alcatraz Count Machuki spoke the catchphrases/lyrics in the DJ style, to great effect. Other producers he worked for were King Edwards, which produced Shank I Sheck another early Ska track. With Lindon Pottinger he had half a dozen releases on the LOP label (some not issued in the UK). Later he was to arrange sessions for his wife Sonia Pottinger for her Gay Feet and High Note record labels. He found himself working in familiar surroundings as they were held at Duke Reids Treasure Isle studio on Bond Street. One of his best instrumentals was First Session, issued on GayFeet in 1966. He only had one other chart hit with This is Thunder in 1966. Most of his instruments were written by himself or in partnership with fellow musicians such as Don Drummond. During the Ska golden period he played along side all the greats, Roland Alphonso, Don Drummond, Tommy McCook, Lester Sterling, Johnny Moore, Gladstone Anderson and Jackie Mittoo. It does seem strange that he did not record for C.S.Dodd or have any records released on his Studio One labels. He would appear not to have had any more releases after 1969.

He never had an album in his own right, however, he did feature as part of a double billing on more than one album, most notably with Prince Buster on What A Hard Man Fe Dead. Doctor Bird (DLM 5001) record label issued an LP in 1966, from the Jamaican Gay Feet label titled Gay Feet Every Night featuring Baba Brooks and his Band + Various Artist. He has not to date had his own CD issued despite the wealth of good materials that would fill many CD's.


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