Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Rest Well `Jah Jerry`

One of Jamaica's musical pioneers, Jerome `Jah Jerry` Haynes, passed away on August 13, 2007 after a brief illness. A founding member of the immortal Skatalites Band as well as being one of the creators of Jamaican Boogie Shuffle and its predecessor, `The Ska`, Jah Jerry was never the colourful type, instead, he was of the reserved type, unassuming and philosophical.
Jah Jerry was born in Trench Pen, presently known as Trench Town, the cultural capital of Jamaica, in 1927. Surrounded by music from an early age, his father bought him and guitar and he turned to Ernest Ranglin, a budding musician in Trench Pen for help in mastering the instrument. Although it took him quite some time to get his playing up to standard, he eventually attained the rudiments of reading and writing music. This prepared him for his sojourn into organized playing when he hit the hotel circuit playing with the Jocelyn Trott Orchestra in Montego Bay, in 1949. Jah Jerry freelanced with several other aggregations until he became a member of the Arkland `Drumbago` Park Studio Band. His unique upward `stumming` of the guitar became the signature style in the Boogie Shuffle/Ska . Between 1959 to early 1964 he did recording sessions with Drumbago's Band for several producers such as Clement `Sir Coxsone` Dodd, Duke Reid, Vincent `Randy's Chin, Lloyd Bell, Leslie `Beverleys` Kong and the Mighty Prince Buster, who held his rehearsal session, nightly at the Baby Grand Club, after closing time. When Drumbago's Band folded Jah Jerry went on to join the newly formed Skatalites Band and played infrequently with the famous aggregation until it folded.
During the period, Jah Jerry embraced the Rastafari `combsome` order, affiliated to the Rockfort/Warrika Hill and Count Ossie Brethren. Quitting music for a prolong period he re-emerged in the second regrouping of Skatalites in the 1980s. During recent times Jah Jerry made the regular trek up to Studio One from his nearby home at Torrington Park and to his favourite `watering hole` at Torrington Bridge.
Family members, friends and members of the music fraternity gathered at Dovecot Memorial Park on August 29, to pay their last respect the great man. Rest Well Jah Jerry!

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