Roland Alphonso  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Roland Alphonso or Rolando Alphonso aka The Chief Musician (January 12 1931, Havana, Cuba - November 20 1998, Los Angeles, California, USA) was a Jamaican tenor saxophonist, best-known as an original member of The Skatalites.

Alphonso came to Jamaica at the age of two with his Jamaican mother, and started to learn saxophone at the Stony Hill Industrial School.

In 1948 he left school to join Eric Deans' Orchestra and soon passed through other bands in the hotel circuit and first recorded as a member of Baba Motta's group in 1952.

Around the mid 1950s, he joined the band of Cluett Johnson named Clue J & The Blues Blasters and backed many sessions of Coxsone Dodd in a typical Jamaican R&B style. By 1960, he was recording for many other producers such as Duke Reid, Lloyd "The Matador" Daley and King Edwards. During this period he played in many different bands, such as The Alley Cats, The City Slickers, Aubrey Adams & The Dew Droppers, etc. In 1963, after few months spent in Nassau, Bahamas, he took part in the creation of The Studio One Orchestra, the first session band of the freshly opened recording studio of Coxsone. This band soon adopted the name of The Skatalites.

When the Skatalites disbanded by August 1965, Alphonso formed the Soul Brothers (with Johnny 'Dizzy' Moore, Jackie Mittoo) to become The Soul Vendors in 1967. He released the first album under his name in 1973 on the Studio One record label.

During the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, he kept on playing on numerous records coming out from Jamaican studios, especially for Bunny Lee, and he toured with many bands. He was awarded Officer of the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican government in 1980, and started to tour more often in the U.S..

He recorded for the New York based Wackies label.

He took part in the reformation of the Skatalites in 1983, with whom he toured and recorded constantly until his death in 1998.


  • ABC Rock Steady (with The Originals Orchestra)- 1968 - Gayfeet/High Note - Produced by Sonia Pottinger
  • The Best Of Rolando Alphonso - 1973 - Studio One (Compilation) - Produced by Coxsone Dodd
  • King Of Sax - 1975 - Studio One (Compilation) - Produced by Coxsone Dodd
  • Brighter Shade of Roots - 1982 - Imperial - Produced by Bunny Lee
  • Roll On - 1984 - Wackies - Produced by Lloyd Barnes
  • Something Special: Ska Hot Shots - 2000 - Heartbeat (Compilation) - Produced by Coxsone Dodd

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Roland Alphonso" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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