Q: Who did you pick for the band on the 'Man From Wareika' tour with Bob Marley? Whom made up the band there? Was Reebop...
A: Well, we had an alto sax player name Derrick, come from Alpha. Look like him no play music at all for a living, but him jus' love fe play it. And me 'ave Dick Cottell on trumpet, and Specks on drums...
A: Specks, yeah, drummer.
Q: All of them were Jamaican players?
A: Yeah, yeah. Jamaican player, yeah. Only the trumpeter was an Englishman, but everybody else was Jamaican.
Q: But didn't you have Reebop Kwaku Bah on percussion there?
A: No, Reebop didn't play with me, Reebop was a signed artist to Island Records as well.
Q: I think Eddie Quansah was there in the line-up too, wasn't he?
A: Eddie Quansah, we do a little recording together, y'know. I did 'Side Winder' with Eddie Quansah, fe Island Records. Yeah.
Q: And what about George Lee?
A: Who? George Lee used to play, a man from Wareika as well.
Q: Then you had Viv Hall.
Q: Vivian Hall used to play with you at that time as well.
A: Vivian Hall, yeah. Vivian Hall was mostly with... he played on 'Man From Wareika' album as well. Yeah. He died after that, a little bit after that. Yeah. But some of the best instrumentalists were on my 'Man From Wareika' album, man.
Q: Apart from Sly & Robbie, this was pretty much the same band that you used on the tour?
A: No, no, no. None of them on the tour was on the record. No. Only maybe Tony Uter on congos.
Q: Right, Uter too. What is Tony up to now?
A: Tony is still playing, he still plays with Trojan Records. They do a lotta touring abroad, Denmark and Norway. He plays with a keyboard player, so maybe he's with small groups, yunno.
Q: Then there came the first 2-Tone LP, 'Jama Rico'. How did you link up with those people again?
A: Oh yes, I used to go over to the south-east section of London every day, for a friend live there. And one day me daughter, one of me daughters say "Some people look fe you, man, and them call every day and them would really like to get in touch with you", and so me seh yes. And one day when me deh-deh now an' them call me an' seh them look for me, for them woulda like me to join up with their band. So me tell them seh me no really join band, for when the band bruk up it's like you come in the wilderness, y'know. So me practice me instrument an' go about the show business an' get to know people myself. But they convinced me it would be good to join them, OK? I decide fe join them an' start the recording. I realised they like what I was playing, so they aksed me to join them. So I join them an' play with them for two years. All over the place we go, man, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Europe, America, y'know wha' I mean. So after a while them bruk up, yunno.
Q: I never witnessed the Specials in concert, but I saw a clip on TV the other day, and I saw you far away in the background there, and that crowd was totally wild, jumping all over the place.
A: Yeah, them was...
Q: Just very aggressive, how did you find that?
A: I find it very exhilarating, beca' sometime you're on the bandstand, people jus' rush on the bandstand, ca' I woulda say it's a lively music.
A: And the crowd...
Q: Very exalted.
A: It's like a revolution, the band was like a revolution. The crowd loved the band so much, man. And one time we go a Cambridge University, an' we had trouble in Cambridge University. We had some fascists who came to the concert an' some members of the band an' them were fightin', yunno.
Q: The National Front?
A: In Cambridge University, some fascist were saying somet'ing to the crowd an' some of the members of the band went in the crowd an' they had a fight. And the police were called an' Jerry Dammers and Terry Hall was fined money, y'know wha' I mean. It was a very, how I would a say, The Specials were one of the most prominent bands in Englan', they used to draw the crowd. Lots of people used to follow that band, man.
Q: You felt the appeal and the energy they had.
A: Sometime them buck up on people that you don't like, y'know, beca' you still had the rascist set up. You still had the rascists come around and tryin' to be friendly, but at heart they're not really your friends, yunno. The musicians are communicating in their music an' they're seeking intelligence in the music. But sometime they would say something an' the members an' them would fight. Away from that I really enjoyed playing with them ca' I was playing regular, you understan'. I really enjoyed playing with them, especially going to America an' Europe, all over, Dublin an' Belfast an' Ireland an' Wales, y'know. It was good, man.
Q: But before you joined the Specials, you played for some time with a band called the Undivided (not to be confused with the Undivided Roots, a later band), one of the early UK reggae bands at the time. Matumbi's Jah Bunny handled the drums in that group for example.
A: It comes to the same thing again, that band wasn't making any money.
Q: Who played in that band?
A: We had alto sax, we had tenor player, we had trumpet, we have bass, we have guitar, drums...
Q: Jah Bunny on drums.
A: Jah Bunny, yeah. Jah Bunny is the only one that keep going, eh?
Q: Possibly so.
A: Which is very good to know, an' Jah Bunny is me friend as well.
Q: Who released the album 'That Man Is Forward', I think it came out circa '81?
A: Chrysalis, the 'That Man Is Forward' is Chrysalis Records, along with Jerry Dammers an' most of the musicians in the band. Chrysalis was the one who bring that record out.
Q: A major label, did they promote it at all?
A: I don't think... no, I don't think they promote it in any places. I didn't get much promotion with that, man. No. Only one I get a lickle promotion with was 'Man From Wareika', doing the tour with Bob Marley.
Q: And after that Chrysalis album, when it failed to take off, you went down to Jamaica and stayed there for some eight years.
A: Yeah man, beca' the band break up.
Q: And it was time to escape the English raining to some sunshine for a change.
A: Yes, and before me go to Jamaica me do one recording with Paul Young, a song from Nicky Thomas, 'Love Of The Common People', and I think Paul Young made a hit out of it.
Q: OK, pop stuff.
A: Yes, and I did the solo in that. And when I was in Jamaica I used to hear it on the radio in Jamaica, but since I'm in Jamaica here nobody don't even know is me who do the solo on that record. But it got regular play, it was regularly played on the radio.
Q: So you have done some mainstream pop as well.
A: That's right. So me said to meself, seh 'Me do plenty work with them man an' them man waan...' - the anxiety, the anxiety whe in a The Specials, it cause them fe break up. And they were very young people, them in a the twenties, me in a the forties, me cyaan wait around the people who so young an' gigglin', y'know wha' I mean. So that is also a good experience.
Q: So what did you do when you came down to Jamaica again for the first time in several years, since the 'Wareika' project? Clive (Chin) told me you did some work around 1983 in Joe Gibbs, and you had done some recordings for him at Randy's studio in 1976 as well.
A: Yeah, lickle t'ings, lickle t'ings.
Q: And you continued to do some stuff for Clive at Joe Gibbs when you came down there I think. Nothing came out, the project is still unreleased.
A: That's right, lickle t'ings. Beca' me an'... when me dung a Jamaica for all this long time, me never do nutten much, yunno. Most of the time I'm in Jamaica I was with me friends and we used to play music together, that's all. We weren't makin' a living out of music in that sense.
Q: So you went back and stayed up in Wareika Hills during those years?
A: Yeah, most of my time I was in Wareika Hills, man. Yeah.
Q: What was different when you went up there again, from how you knew it once upon a time?
A: Well, what was different now is like, when I was in Jamaica in the early sixties now we used to play regularly in Wareika Hills, y'know, every day and every night. But when I go back in this time I realised they don't play so much again. But the people still lived there but they don't play music every day, they only play on Sundays, you understan'. That's one of the t'ings that I see was very strange, they don't play music until every Sunday. And the way how they fix up in Wareika Hill now, they flattened the place, like, they have the police an' the soldiers build a camp up there. So it's not as like... bushy, when we know it it used to be a bushy place, trees all over the place. The forces of law an' order had brought down all those places to be flat, so everybody... it was different, it's not like the first time.
Q: But pretty much the... almost the same people living up there?
A: Yeah, the same people - their children, the children. Yes.
Q: I would like to know your relationship to Count Ossie, not much is said about him in these days.
A: Well, Count Ossie was my very... whe yu a say, Count Ossie used to be my very good friend, man, Count Ossie. If I'm not there he's not happy, he always likes me around. Even though Drummond was the best player, but he like to have me around. Beca' he came from in the city, I came from west, and when he met me he liked me very much, man. Drummond was more popular up there than me, y'know wha' I mean, and he was one of the ones who invited me to stay up there. So me a say, me an' Ossie move good, man. And I remember his sons, me an' him sons are very good friends.
Q: Are they still up there at Wareika?
A: I see one or two of them, one or two of them still in Jamaica and one or two of them still in America. But I was a very good friend of Count Ossie, very good. Count Ossie used to be a very nice man. Him always a... yeah, as a person, man, he's very kind-hearted. A very good person. And nobody couldn't trouble me, yu know what I mean, he was like my protector, him an' Brevett folks an' Big Boy an' dem man deh. I was there and one of their best friends. Is not always I go up there, sometime I stay in the city. And if they don't see me they will enquire for me, y'know wha' I mean, so I was always with them.
Q: So you mostly stayed away from recordings during that eight year stint in Jamaica.
A: No, no, me no do no recording or anyt'ing like that.
Q: But then you decided to move back to England again, in the late eighties.
A: No, no, some musician come from Switzerland gave Cedric Brooks a message for me, that time I think I was staying in America a little. And one day when I came back to Jamaica a friend of mine give me a ticket and give me a piece of note an' a piece of paper an' say to me, seh 'These people want to take you to Switzerland', so I said that's good, yunno. So they were the ones who get me out of Jamaica, some musician from Switzerland. They call themselves The Heartbeat Band. They were the ones who send a ticket for me an' I would come out of Jamaica, ca' when you go out a Jamaica an' you pay five hundred pound today, when you pay five hundred pound to come back, the next day it's gone up, you understan'. So being down there so long I really didn't have no money to come out again, OK? In other words, I wasn't earning any money so I couldn't find no money to come out the country, so... They were the friends who came to get me out of Jamaica, my Swiss friends. Up to today, up to yesterday one of them come here an' look for me, up to yesterday one of them was right here talkin'.
Q: I can't remember the title, but I think the first album you did after coming back on English soil was an album for some Japanese people, for the Jove label, with drum machines and all that.
A: Oh yes, yes, yes. 'Rising In The East', yeah. They have a record company, the Alpha record company. I think they want to book me again for this November, but I don't think I will be able to go an' play it, beca' my regular work is with Jools Holland, yunno.
Q: I did spot you on TV the other day, you were there in his horn section with that great orchestra at an outdoors jazz festival.
A: Yeah? Oh God, I didn't hear about that, thank you very much, man. Like you say to me now, I played the World Festival in Reading, and I went to a festival in June or July in California, and I was invited on the radio an' the guy on the radio played me a record that I did, the World Festival in Reading in Englan'. I didn't even know they have it on record, sah. It look like when you play for these festivals they record you, it's jus' like you say to me, yeah. And I don't worry about those t'ings, these t'ings make people know you better.
Q: How did the link to Jools come about?
A: Well to be honest, I had my own band...
Q: Jazz Jamaica?
A: I had my own band at this time, and The Police, a group name The Police, they invited me to come an' do a gig with them, in other words I'm supporting the Police on these concert, O33 concerts. That's where I met Jools, man. That's where I met Jools, at these concerts. He was supporting an artist with his piano playing, and that's where I met him at Sting's concert in the late eighties. So when I came back from Jamaica an' played with a band name Jazz Jamaica, and Jazz Jamaica to me, everything wasn't so clear with we. I thought they want fe use my name, ya hear me good? I think they were tryin' fe use my name to big up themselves, and as the sufferer that I am I don't want nobody to build up themselves off my name an' what I have done for music. Yeah. So after I had been with them fe a lickle while I jus' leave them, and then I called Jools' office, an' I say "You have any work fe me, sah?" And him sez "Ohh, yes man". So from that I have been with Jools. Yeah.
Q: And he treat you good?
A: Oh God, man. The treatment, I have never been treated as good as any... I would say the best I have been treated in my musical career is by this man, Jools. He give you respec', y'know wha' I mean?
Q: It took you more than forty years to be treated well...
A: (Laughs) Ta raas claat, man! Eh? Yeah (much laughter). You say it good, man, you say it good. Like what I said to you previously, the sufferin' that I've gone through playin' this trombone, none of these fools will ever get over me. Yeah? None of these clever guys will ever get over me, because of sufferin' I've become very intelligent, and because of that I realised that this person that I'm playin' with now, he treats me the best. So what can I say?
Q: The respect is there, obviously.
A: Yes man, I feel very good with Jools. And I say this also to you, even though I'm with Jools' band so long, people still book me to play for them, individually. OK? So I've always been respectful to him, seh "Jools, I have a gig on this an' that date, is it OK, sah?" And he say OK, you understan'?
A: For people book me all over the place, people book me in Japan, people book me in Brazil, people book me all over the world, an' I still have my job with Jools. So that's very good, yeah. It's not as if I'm the only trombonist in the band, is four of us, yunno.
Q: Right, a big section.
A: Big band. So I always show my appreciation to him generally. Me no deh-deh fe count cow, me deh-deh fe drink milk. Eh?
Q: Yes (chuckles).
A: Yeah, yeah. So respec' to him an' his family an' the musicians that I play along with, better respec' fe them also for they're professional.
Article: Peter I|
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