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Roland Alphonso

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Roland Alphonso (Havana, Cuba, January 12, 1931 - Los Angeles, California, November 20, 1998) aka Rolando Alphonso or The Chief Musician was a Jamaican tenor saxophonist.

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, and Aubrey Adams & The Dew Droppers. 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.

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