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Carlos Malcolm & His Afro Jamaican Rhythm

Ska bandleader Carlos Malcolm was an underappreciated figure of the music's early days, and also made some recordings in New York in a more Americanized vein. A native of Kingston, Malcolm received formal musical training and broke into the business playing trombone with the legendary Don Drummond in a jazz group in the late '50s. In 1962, he was tapped to head the ten-piece house orchestra of the newly established state radio organization the Jamaican Broadcasting Corporation, and wrote some of the first formal ska arrangements as a result. He also composed uncredited music for the soundtrack of the first James Bond film, Dr. No (which was partly filmed in Jamaica), and formed his own group, the Afro-Jamaican Rhythms, whose music melded ska, African, Latin, and jazz rhythms. They scored hits in Jamaica with "Rukumbine" (1963) and, especially, "Bonanza Ska" (1964, a reworking of TV's "Bonanza" theme song); they also recorded three albums, the most prominent of which was Ska Mania. During the '60s, Malcolm also traveled to New York and recorded three albums that blended a Caribbean sensibility with American musics. The Roulette release Don't Walk, Dance! (around 1964) was the first of these, boasting a jazzy, Latin-flavored sound; it was followed in 1966 by Sounds of the Caribbean (Scepter), credited to Carlos Malcolm & the Jamaica Brass. Perhaps the most prized item in Malcolm's catalog, Bustin' Outta the Ghetto (released on AJP in the late '60s) was a collection of full-fledged funk instrumentals that touched only tangentially on Jamaican music. Malcolm eventually settled in San Diego. ~ Steve Huey
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