“Alpharian Brass & Woodwind Hero”

Powerful blare in love

Leslie Thompson

Leslie Anthony Joseph Thompson (trumpets/trombones) was born on October 17, 17 1901. He is one of the prominent musicians from Jamaica who came from the “Alpha School”. The school that played an important role gave birth to one of the greatest musical genres of the 20th century.

Leslie had served as a member of an artillery unit, and even participated in World War II. But he is still a musician, a genius. He once worked as a music director in a theatre, playing music for silent films, live!.

The big talent in him later made him a world-class Jazz musician. He shared the stage with moguls such as Benny Carter, Duke Ellington, Josephine Baker and Louis Armstrong. He was a brilliant multi-instrumentalist, those closest to him remember that Leslie could read scores for all musical instruments. He got this great musical ability from studying with high discipline he possessed at Alpha Boys’ School

 

Cedric “IM” Brooks

This musician is ordained as ‘a perfect mix of musician and educator.’ He is one of the alumni of “Alpha School.” Cedric “IM” Brooks started as an “Alpha School” student at the age of 8, studying piano, drums and of course the Saxophone.

His musical career in Jamaica was big, he was involved in musical projects for Burning Spear, Bob Marley, The Heptones and joining The Skatalites after the death of Roland Alphonso.

One of Cedric’s notable works is “Grounation,” an epic three-disc album and one of the most ambitious albums ever made in Jamaica. One of these alpharians released ‘Grounation’ as a part of the Count Ossie and the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari. A genius album that is able to emphasise the awareness of the importance of African culture in music in Jamaica, and the world.

Cedric is known as an intelligent figure, he has a broad mind, he loves his ancestors so much. The name “IM” that he pinned has the meaning of Imperial Majesty, a reference to the emperor Haile Selassie as well as his affirmation in Rastafari. Through music, Cedric expresses his love for others.

Cedric is close to Sonny Rollins when he lived in the US, the “Saxophone Colossus”, from whom Cedric closely interacts with avant-garde musician Sun Ra. He got a lot of inspiration from Sun Ra, one of which was to embed IM in his name. Sun Ra asked Cedric to join this philosophical music unit, but he chose to return to Jamaica and develop his own version of “Arkestra”.

Cedric’s legacy remains embedded in many works by musicians from Jamaica to this day.

 

Bertie King

Born in Panama, June 19, 1912, this powerful musician gained big success in Jamaica. The musical outfit that he led earned the nickname Jamaica’s foremost dance orchestra. Albert King or better known as Bertie King is indeed one of the influential musicians in Jamaica, he is synonymous with mento music even though his taste is indeed big into jazz.

Through Bertie King and the Rhythm Aces, Bertie was able to put Jamaica on the “jazz map of the world.” His special yet fancy musical ability made great artists like George Shearing, Nat ‘King’ Cole, and Cab Calloway invite him to support their acts. In fact, he was directly involved in recording with Nat Gonella and his Georgians and Django Reinhardt in France.

In England, Bertie has also shone, he has performed stunningly many times at the Royal Hall Festival since the inaugural Jazz Festival was held. Bertie even led the orchestra with 10 black members on the BBC.

Jamaican and the world media concluded, to Bertie King, not only his prowess in playing the alto-saxophone that deserves an award, also his musical ethos which later became the foundation for musicians after him. Of course, most of the energy of this legend comes from the “Alpha School” where he studied before starting his professional career.

 

Tommy McCook

One of the leaders, headliners and pioneers of the luxury of Jamaican music was awarded the title “Order of Distinction” from the Jamaican government. Born on March 3, 1927 in Havana, Cuba, musician whose full name is Thomas Matthew McCook, better known as Tommy McCook, indeed deserves to be called the “Saxophone Titan” from Jamaica.

Tommy can be counted as the only musician who was involved in many births of the musical nexus from Jamaica. The world certainly will never forget Tommy’s establishment with The Skatalites who launched Ska to orbit, it was even Tommy who gave the name for this historical music unit. With his Tommy McCook & The Supersonic, he was directly involved in the birth of rocksteady which later brought the evolution of reggae music that is now we can enjoy.

Tommy’s big legacy is also can be seen through his adaptive ability to musicians across generations, joined in The Aggravators (alongside Robbie Shakespeare, Santa Davis, Vin Gordon, Earle Smith, Tony Chin, Bernard Harvey, Ansel Collins, Bobby Ellis, and Lennox Brown) he was again taking a part in the birth of dub music through the collaboration with King Tubby.

Inspired by his older brother, Tommy’s passion for music has been there since he was young. Tommy loves Jazz so much, and this passion has just found its way  at “Alpha School” where he studied and polished his blessful talent.

 

Emmanuel “Rico” Rodriguez

This one of the legendary Trombonists from Jamaica is known as a maestro who is always able to conjure up the works of many musicians through his prestigious infusion of music.

Emmanuel “Rico” Rodriguez, born in Cuba, October 1934, is one of the graduates of the “Alpha School.” Rico Rodriguez, his popular name, admitted that he learned the discipline lessons from this legendary school. It was also at “Alpha School” that he found his way as a world-class trombone virtuoso.

From this school, he met a cosmical legend, Don Drummond, whom he called a mentor. Together with Don, he often shapes up the knowledge he gets from the “Alpha School.” They regularly held freestyle-jazz jam sessions at the Rastafari camp, which later became a spiritual path in Rico’s life.

Rico’s work through his album is called a deep-jazz-reggae masterpiece. His musical beauty is sought after by many musicians around the world, from the likes of Paul Young, The Police, Joan Armatrading and Ian Dury to Jools Holland. Bunny Lee, the legendary producer said that Rico was “a musician who was able to create the iconic sound that made the trombone almost Jamaica’s national instrument, and was instrumental in making reggae the most popular music in the world’

Another note in Rico’s musical journey who received the “MBE” (Member Of British Empire) award from the British Empire and the “Musgrave Medal for the Arts” from the Jamaican government is, for being an instrumental figure in Ska from the beginning and having a big part in the birth of the next wave of ska through the iconic British music unit with their 2Tone movement, The Specials. Rico, indeed, is one of the legendary Alpharians.

(Sam)

 

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