The Skatalites are a Jamaican music group formed in the 1960's.  They are considered to be the pioneers of the popular ska genre of music (ska is also the 'grandfather' of reggae, according to The Skatalites).  Ska's most dominating, prominent, and distinctive feature is its off-beat chords (also heard in reggae).  Ska's next most dominant characteristic is its use of horns (usually trumpet/sax/trombone combinations).  Ska has evolved since the 60's and progressed into several modern forms: Traditional ska (emulating the original jazz-influenced ska of the 60's) (groups like The Inspector, and Skavoovie and the Epitones), Skacore (groups like Save Ferris, and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones), Rock/ska (Let's Go Bowling).  Ska re-emerged from England in the early 1980's when the two-tone movement started, stressing equality and peace between whites/blacks, along with the punk movement.  This is why some modern punk bands have some very ska-like songs (though far different from their traditional Jamaican ska counterpart).

The Skatalites still exist today, though a few of their original members have passed away.  They continue to produce some of the best quality ska/jazz pieces known today, featuring catchy melodies and awesome solos in every section: wind, guitar, bass, and rhythm.

Yahoo! Music Bio:

The Skatalites were formed in June 1964, drawing from the ranks of session musicians then recording in the studios of Kingston, Jamaica.  The personnel included Don Drummond (trombone), Roland Alphonso (tenor saxophone), Tommy McCook (tenor saxophone), Johnny 'Dizzy' Moore (trumpet), Lester Sterling (alto saxophone), Jerome 'Jah Jerry' Hines (guitar), Jackie Mittoo (piano), Lloyd Brevett (bass) and Lloyd Knibbs (drums).  The band name was a Tommy McCook pun on the Soviet space satellite of 1963.  The Skatalites' music, reputedly named after the characteristic 'ska' sound made by the guitar when playing the 'after beat', was a powerful synthesis, combining elements of R&B and swing jazz in arrangements and solos, underpinned by the uniquely Jamaican-stressed 'after beat', as opposed to the 'down beat' of R&B. Many of the musicians had learned music at Alpha Boys' School in Kingston, subsequently honing their talent in the Jamaican swing bands of the 40s and early 50s, and in numerous 'hotel bands' playing for the tourist trade.

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