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Artist Hall of Fame

Tommy McCookText by Harry Hawks

Tommy McCook’s beautiful tenor saxophone graced countless sixties and seventies recordings but his work as a composer and arranger is every bit as important. He is one of the undisputed architects and builders of modern Jamaican music.
Date Added: Feb 3, 2009, Date Updated: Jan 7, 2011 Copyright (C) 2018 Dub Store Sound Inc.
Mar 3, 1927 - May 5, 1998
Place of Birth: Kingston
Jamaica
Related Artist(s):
Skatalites
Supersonics
"Tommy, along with Roland Alphonso, founded the famous Skatalites band and he has moved forward ever since..." 'Brass Rockers

Tommy McCook was born in Havana, Cuba to Jamaican parents on 3rd March 1927 and moved to Kingston, Jamaica six years later where, at the age of eleven, Tommy's mother entrusted him to the Roman Catholic nuns at the Alpha Catholic Boys Home And School. He studied music theory, flute and tenor saxophone for four years at the famous Kingston charitable institution. Many of the island's legendary jazz musicians, including Don Drummond, Bobby Ellis, Vincent 'Don D Junior' Gordon, Johnny 'Dizzy' Moore and Rico Rodriguez, also learnt their craft at Alpha under band master Lennie Hibbert. On leaving Alpha Tommy began to play with the Eric Deans Orchestra and the Ray Coburn Dance Band where he soon established a reputation as one of Jamaica's most accomplished young musicians. But, during the fifties, there were not many musical opportunities to be found in Kingston and a number of the island's best musicians emigrated in order to find work overseas. In 1954 Tommy McCook sailed for the Bahamas to play with a dance band in Nassau.

"We used to play orchestrated music from the USA from the big band era. I started in big band music. In 1943 I was playing American orchestrations, Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Woody Herman, Duke Ellington and later Stan Kenton, Gene Krupa. The whole thing. But in the dance bands I played in, especially in the Bahamas, the tourists didn't want to hear any jazz at all. They wanted to hear island music: rumbas, calypsos, whatever. The minute we started an American standard they would say 'We don't want no American music. We just left that at home. We don't want that here.' But it was fine by me. By 1963 I was tired of it."Tommy McCook

On returning to Kingston Tommy started working with Aubrey Adams at the Courtleigh Manor Hotel. He also began to make ska recordings for Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd(CS Dodd) at Studio One and Duke Reid at Treasure Isle: it apparently required a great deal of persuasion to convince him that ska could ever be as important as jazz because "jazz was my first love". The "twenty or so studio musicians who played on nearly all early Jamaican records" all came from jazz backgrounds and Tommy was eventually persuaded to organise them into one collective aggregation.

Somebody had suggested 'The Satellites'. It was 'Dizzy', Lloyd Knibbs or one of the brothers. But I said 'No. 'The Skatalites' since the ska was what we played." Tommy McCook

The Skatalites played their first public engagement at the Hi Hat Club in Rae Town and stayed together from 1963 until 1965 when they played their farewell show at a police dance at the Runaway Bay Hotel. Their time together was brief but their influence was beyond compare. During these two incredibly creative years they perfected an authentic new Jamaican music and helped to set the template for the island's fledgling music business.

In the summer of 1965 Tommy took over arranging the horn parts for society band Kes Chin and The Souvenirs while other members of The Skatalites began to work in smaller studio based ensembles. As ska shifted towards rock steady Roland Alphonso and Jackie Mittoo formed The Soul Brothers at Coxsone's Studio One and Tommy McCook became musical co-director (alongside alto saxophonist Herman Marquis) for Duke Reid's Treasure Isle house band: Tommy McCook & The Supersonics.

"I was fortunate. I had the ideas that the guys needed on their sessions and they respected my compositional skills to put music to the rhythms." Tommy McCook

It has often been said that the arrival of rock steady signalled the demise of Kingston's horn sections. There is a degree of truth in this but many of the horns men continued to work, live on stage and in the studios, as musical arrangers and solo instrumentalists. Tommy McCook, as both musical arranger and tenor saxophonist at Treasure Isle, was again in the vanguard of a new musical revolution and the significance of rock steady to the subsequent development of Jamaican music is incalculable.

Towards the close of 1968 the new reggae sound began to take over and Duke Reid continued to release some of the biggest hits in the new faster style.

"Four of these numbers are currently in the JBC Top Twenty Chart including Duke's latest sound, the 'Raggae'..." Here Comes The Duke

The following year 'Lock Jaw', recorded down on Bond Street under the guidance of Lee 'Scratch' Perry(Lee Perry) and credited to 'Upsetter & Tommy McCook and The Supersonics', highlighted an entirely new direction for Jamaican music: deejays and dub. The story of either 'Ruddy' Redwood and/or King Tubby removing the vocal tracks for special mixes of either 'You Don't Care' or 'On The Beach' has been well documented and it is now very difficult to say who was actually the first. However, no-one has ever argued about the fact that it was a Treasure Isle rock steady rhythm that started the entire version/dub phenomenon.

As well as working with Duke Reid, Tommy McCook also toured internationally with reggae's top artists, worked at all of Kingston's studios and recorded for many other producers including Bunny Lee's Aggrovators.

"... I work at all of the studios, Federal, Dynamics, Randy's(Randys), Harry J but I'm based at Treasure Isle where I supervise the sessions and help with the mixing of tapes and the cutting of the masters." Tommy McCook

In 1983 the remaining members of The Skatalites reformed to play the Reggae Sunsplash festival in Montego Bay, Jamaica and subsequently toured the world bringing their timeless rhythmical charm to a whole new generation of music lovers.

Tommy McCook died in Atlanta, Georgia USA on 5th May 1998. His matchless body of work stretching from jazz through ska, rock steady, reggae and back to ska again will ensure forever that his pivotal role in the creation of modern Jamaican music will never be forgotten.
Feb 3, 2009 (Jan 7, 2011 Update) Text by Harry Hawks
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Hit titles
Tommy McCook - Blazing Horns: Tenor In Roots
CD Tommy McCook - Blazing Horns: Tenor In Roots Blood & Fire UK Info: Deleted
  
¥2380 (US$21.11)
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Don Drummond, Ernest Ranglin, Tommy McCook, Various - Jazz Jamaica From The Workshop
CD Don Drummond, Ernest Ranglin, Tommy McCook, Various - Jazz Jamaica From The Workshop Studio One
  
¥2380 (US$21.11)
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Tommy McCook - Cookin'
CD Tommy McCook - Cookin' Horse UK
¥1680 (US$14.90)
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Tommy McCook - Brass Rockers (With King Tubby And The Aggrovators)
CD Tommy McCook - Brass Rockers (With King Tubby And The Aggrovators) Jamaican Recordings UK
  
¥2680 (US$23.77)
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Tommy McCook - Tommy Mccook Featuring Bobby Ellis (Jacket Damage)
LP Tommy McCook - Tommy Mccook Featuring Bobby Ellis (Jacket Damage) Attack UK
  
¥1980 (US$17.56)
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Tommy McCook, Supersonics - Pleasure Dub
LP Tommy McCook, Supersonics - Pleasure Dub Pressure Sounds UK
  
¥2800 ¥2580 (US$22.89)
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Don Drummond, Ernest Ranglin, Tommy McCook, Various - Jazz Jamaica From The Workshop
LP Don Drummond, Ernest Ranglin, Tommy McCook, Various - Jazz Jamaica From The Workshop Studio One
  
¥2080 (US$18.45)
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Tommy McCook - Cookin'
LP Tommy McCook - Cookin' Horse UK
¥1880 (US$16.68)
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Tommy McCook - Brass Rockers (With The Aggrovators) (Plane Sleeve)
LP Tommy McCook - Brass Rockers (With The Aggrovators) (Plane Sleeve) Striker Lee UK (Org) Info: Original Press
  
¥1880 ¥1590 (US$14.10)
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Tommy Mccook - Brass Rockers (with King Tubby And The Aggrovators)
LP Tommy Mccook - Brass Rockers (with King Tubby And The Aggrovators) Jamaican Recordings Uk
  
¥2980 (US$26.43)
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Tommy McCook, Upsetters - Cloak & Dagger; Sharpe Razor
10" Tommy McCook, Upsetters - Cloak & Dagger; Sharpe Razor / Dillinger - Dub Organiser; Cloak & Dagger (Dub Plate Pressure) Trojan UK Cloak & Dagger
  
¥1980 (US$17.56)
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Tommy McCook - Persian Ska (Colour Vinyl)
7" Tommy McCook - Persian Ska (Colour Vinyl) / Justin Hinds - Once A Man Twice Treasure Isle
  
¥600 (US$5.32)
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Tommy McCook, Supersonics - Gold Finger
7" Tommy McCook, Supersonics - Gold Finger / Don Drummond - Throughfare Treasure Isle
  
¥980 (US$8.69)
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Tommy McCook, Supersonics - Our Man Flint
7" Tommy McCook, Supersonics - Our Man Flint Peckings UK
  
¥1180 (US$10.47)
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Dawn Penn, Tommy McCook, Supersonics - Why Did You Lie ?
7" Dawn Penn, Tommy McCook, Supersonics - Why Did You Lie ? / Tommy McCook, Supersonics - Moody Ska Discolite
  
¥900 (US$7.98)
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Tommy McCook - Indian Love Call
7" Tommy McCook - Indian Love Call / Eric Monty Morris - Penny Reel Treasure Isle
  
¥900 (US$7.98)
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Heptones, Tommy McCook - I Am Lonely (Crying Over You)
7" Heptones, Tommy McCook - I Am Lonely (Crying Over You) Trench Town
  
¥800 (US$7.10)
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Tommy McCook, Supersonics - Soul Movement
7" Tommy McCook, Supersonics - Soul Movement / King Sporty, Supersonics - For Your Desire Peckings UK
  
¥1080 (US$9.58)
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Tommy McCook, Supersonics - Sweet Lorna
7" Tommy McCook, Supersonics - Sweet Lorna Peckings UK
  
¥1180 (US$10.47)
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Tommy McCook - Starry Night (Coloured Vinyl)
7" Tommy McCook - Starry Night (Coloured Vinyl) / Tony & Dennis - Folk Song Dutchess
  
¥980 (US$8.69)
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Ernest Ranglin, Tommy McCook - Ranglin On Bond Street (Coloured Vinyl)
7" Ernest Ranglin, Tommy McCook - Ranglin On Bond Street (Coloured Vinyl) / Tommy McCook, Supersonics - Sweet Lorna Dutchess Ranglin On Bond Street
  
¥600 (US$5.32)
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Tommy McCook, Yabby U - Revenge
7" Tommy McCook, Yabby U - Revenge Vivian Jackson/Prophet Jah Vengence
  
¥1200 (US$10.64)
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Recent arrival(s)
Bunny Lee, Tommy McCook, Aggrovators - Super Dub Disco Style/Super Star Disco Rockers (2CD)
CD Bunny Lee, Tommy McCook, Aggrovators - Super Dub Disco Style/Super Star Disco Rockers (2CD) Pressure Sounds UK
  
¥2180 (US$19.34)
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Best selling CD(s)
Don Drummond, Ernest Ranglin, Tommy McCook, Various - Jazz Jamaica From The Workshop
CD Don Drummond, Ernest Ranglin, Tommy McCook, Various - Jazz Jamaica From The Workshop Studio One
  
¥2380 (US$21.11)
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Tommy McCook - Sannic Sounds
CD Tommy McCook - Sannic Sounds Dub Store Records JPN
   One of the rarest, and greatest, horn instrumental dub albums of the seventies featuring the soaring saxophone of Tommy McCook in combination with Glen Brown, ‘The Rhythm Master’, is finally given a legitimate release. Featuring the soaring saxophone of Tommy McCook in combination with Glen Brown, ‘The Rhythm Master’, is finally given a legitimate release. Including liner notes from Harry Hawks.
¥2780 (US$24.66)
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Best selling LP(s)
Tommy McCook - Sannic Sounds
LP Tommy McCook - Sannic Sounds Dub Store Records JPN
   One of the rarest, and greatest, horn instrumental dub albums of the seventies featuring the soaring saxophone of Tommy McCook in combination with Glen Brown, ‘The Rhythm Master’, is finally given a legitimate release. Featuring the soaring saxophone of Tommy McCook in combination with Glen Brown, ‘The Rhythm Master’, is finally given a legitimate release. Including liner notes from Harry Hawks.
¥3240 (US$28.74)
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Tommy McCook - Best Of Tommy Mccook & The Skatalites: Tribute To
LP Tommy McCook - Best Of Tommy Mccook & The Skatalites: Tribute To Heartbeat US/Studio One Info: Deleted
¥3580 (US$31.76)
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Sly & Robbie, Tommy McCook, Etc. - Dial M For Murder: In Dub Style
LP Sly & Robbie, Tommy McCook, Etc. - Dial M For Murder: In Dub Style Pressure Sounds UK
  
¥2680 (US$23.77)
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Best selling 7"(s)
Roland Alphonso, Soul Brothers - Sca-Balena
7" Roland Alphonso, Soul Brothers - Sca-Balena / Tommy McCook (Miss Credit) - Two For One (Miss Credit) Studio One/Dub Store Records JPN
   Both sides are extremely rare unreleased takes of ska instrumentals by Roland Alphonso, Tommy McCook and the Soul Brothers. Sca-Balena is a famous cover in which you can enjoy the brilliance of Roland Alphonso, and a completely new latin take of “Two For One” originally played by Tommy McCook. It is really hard to expect what will come out of the warehouse of well-established label like Studio One, although Sir Coxsone knew exactly where everything was being placed. We’re sorry that the “Bridge View” is a misprint instead of “Two For One” Both have been recorded from the original master-tapes.
¥1580 (US$14.02)
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Phyllis Dillon - Don't Stay Away
7" Phyllis Dillon - Don't Stay Away / Tommy McCook, Supersonics - Starry Night Treasure Isle UK Don't Stay Away
  
¥1260 (US$11.18)
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Bob Marley, Wailers - One Cup Of Coffee
7" Bob Marley, Wailers - One Cup Of Coffee / Tommy McCook, Supersonics - Snow Boy Beverleys UK
  
¥1380 (US$12.24)
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Phyllis Dillon - Rock Steady
7" Phyllis Dillon - Rock Steady / Tommy McCook - Soul Rock Treasure Isle UK Rock Steady
  
¥1280 (US$11.35)
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Herman Hersang & His City Slickers - Hersang Hop
7" Herman Hersang & His City Slickers - Hersang Hop / Don Drummond, Tommy McCook, Roland Alphonso - Calypso Jazz (Iron Bar) (Alternative Take) Studio One/Dub Store Records JPN
   Early ska instrumental with vibing call and response from the organ and guitar. Backed by the finest Jamaican jazz played by the likes of Don Drummon, Tomy McCook and Roland Alphonso.
¥1580 (US$14.02)
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