Home » Music » A LIL PIECE OF MUSIC HISTORY- NERLYNN TAITT

Who would have thought that my cousin, a Trinidadian, would be a founding father of what became known as Reggae?  Interesting!!!!!!

 

Nerlynn “Lynn” Taitt was born June 22, 1934 on Coffee Street in San Fernando Trinidad & died January 20, 2010 in Montreal, Canada.  Lynn Taitt is famous for his guitar playing and his innovative arrangements of Jamaican recordings of the 1960’s.  He was the first choice of Lloyd Knibb, Johnny Moore and Jackie Mittoo to lead The Skatalites band, but Taitt is best known as a creator and the preeminent exponent of the bridge between Ska and Reggae, Rock Steady music.

Taitt grew up in Trinidad with his three brothers, Cedric, Mervin and Glenville.  Older brother to Lynn, Glenville, is a Senator in Trinidad.  Mervin, youngest of the four, was living in Miami as of 2009.  His father, my Great-Uncle Isaac,  was a “shipwright” who sang in the church choir.  “My father and mother couldn’t get along and they split up after having four kids.  I was around seven or eight years old when my father leave.”  While their parents were together, the Taitt family attended a Seventh Day Adventist Church.

According to Kim Johnson, and later confirmed by Taitt, “In the late 1940s Nerlynn and his brother Cedric Taitt and the other boys of the neighborhood hung around Bataan, a nearby steelband, until its leader Herman ‘Teddy’ Clarke gave them a few old pans.  But Mrs. Taitt threw the pans in the ravine, because in those days steelband was considered a form of delinquency.  The boys recovered the pans and took them to the house of their friends Stephen, Angus and Kenrick Lalsingh. Mr Lalsingh threw them in the ravine, so the gang returned them to the Taitt home. And thus the band, now named Seabees after the John Wayne movie The Fighting Seabees, moved back and forth while fighting for acceptance. At Christmas time the boys put aside their pans to go paranging—performing the traditional Christmas tunes sung in Spanish. Kenrick, Angus and Cedric had harmonicas, while Nerlynn played a cuatro.

Small gigs at school fairs gave Seabees enough respectability for Mrs. Taitt to tolerate them, although she never approved until Nerlynn won the 1956 Music Festival prize for ping-pong solo. By then he was a committed musician.

‘My mother couldn’t stop Nerlynn, though. She coulda stop me but she woulda have to kill Nerlynn,’ says Cedric Taitt. ‘He decided from small that music have to mind [support] him.’  ‘Nerlynn was always trying to improve,’ recalls his brother Cedric.  ‘If he do one thing today, by tomorrow it’s better.  Once he tried to retune a music box;  he opened it up and was pulling the wires because he didn’t like the key it played in.’  He was also playing guitar with another group of neighbourhood friends, the Dutchy Brothers—five sons of the Surinamese immigrant Leonard “Dutchy” DeVlugt, three of whom played pan in Seabees.” (Kim Johnson, Secret Hero of Jamaican Music, Caribbean Beat Issue #93, Inflight magazine of Caribbean Airlines, September/October 2008.)

Taitt was among a handful of musicians from the Eastern Caribbean who settled in Jamaica in the early 1960s. Others of note were his countryman, singer Lord Creator and the Barbadian vocalist Jackie Opel.  As his reputation as a guitarist/arranger grew, Taitt began recording with super band The Skatalites, playing on many of their memorable cuts like Guns of NavaroneConfucius and Gun Fever.  Though Taitt was a member of many bands, he is best known as founder and leader of The Jets, an in-demand band that also featured Anderson, Bennett, guitarist Lynford ‘Hux’ Brown, organist Winston Wright and bass player Brian Atkinson. They recorded mainly at Federal, but also for producers Clement Dodd, Arthur ‘Duke’ Reid, Joe Gibbs, Sonia Pottinger and Harriott.

The musical virtuoso was highly rated for his inventive and unconventional guitar styling. He has been widely credited as having crafted the first rocksteady bassline on the song Take It Easy by vocalist Hopeton Lewis.  “He came at a time when Jamaican music needed all the brilliant players that it could get to really give it the start that it got,” Winston Blake reminisced, adding that Taitt did most of his work with Federal Recording Company.  “He offered such a splendid alternative to the virtuosity that Ernie Ranglin displayed during the ska era,” was the view of another noted musicologist Herbie Miller.  “As a Trinidadian who made Jamaica his home he totally assimilated our music with his own musical culture… another great contributor to our music has departed,” Miller further said.

In August 1968, Taitt travelled to Toronto to lead a band at the West Indies Federated Club. He decided to remain in Canada and settled in Montreal a few years later. In addition to working again with artists he knew in Jamaica, such as Phyllis Dillon, the Paragons and Prince Buster, Taitt also collaborated with Canadian acts such as Mossman and Jason Wilson, and was a member of the versatile fusion group, La Gioventu. He was also featured at the Montreal jazz festival in 2002 and 2006.

One of his last major gigs was with The Skatalites at the Montreal Jazz Festival six years ago and the last major musical project that he was involved with was a documentary on rocksteady music.

 

****cited:  The Jamaica Obsever, The Jamaica Gleaner & Tallawah.com…….Oh yeah, & I called my Mommy too for help…LOL

 

 

                                                       

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