Lloyd Mason – Jamaican Pre-Ska - Bass, Flute, Oboe, Piccolo

The Val Bennett orchestra was playing dance music at a house party on Lloyd Mason’s street (7th Street in Greenwich Town) and a five year old Lloyd snuck out of the house to listen to the orchestra and he stayed there all night long. “Thats where I belong and I believe that’s where my music started – right there.”

In 1945 at age ten, Lloyd was living with his mother and became unruly. Soon, his father came to get him and brought him to Stony Hill School. Lloyd’s father served in the Jamaican Army with the bandmaster and arranged for this move in order to teach Lloyd a trade or to learn music. Lloyd was not put into music immediately. He was taken to learn shoe-making. Six months later, the bandmaster came to speak with him and examined Lloyd’s fingers and his mouth, handed him a six-hole fife and said, “You’re going to learn this.” Bass player, Cluett Johnson’s brother was also a youth at Stony Hill School and he played the piccolo. Cluett’s brother taught Lloyd the fife. Roland Alphonso was also at Stony Hill and was playing the slide drum.

Despoite his young age, Lloyd became accomplished at the flute in playing with Stony Hill Boy’s Band.

Over at the Jamaican Military Band, a man named Spud Murphy was the drum major and the flute and piccolo player. As it came time for Spud Murphy to retire, The Military Band was challenged as it had no trained members to play the fife. None could read, write, or play the fife. To address this need, the Bandmaster for the Military Band spoke with the bandmaster at Stony Hill about Lloyd’s move to the Military Band. There was no audition for Lloyd Mason after Spud Murphy left. It was obvious who had the ability to fit the role. The fellow band members began to call him “Spuddy” or “Boy Mason.” Lloyd was the youngest person in the Jamaican Military Band and was a “young hand.”

Marjorie Whylie (well known educator and Musical Director of The Jamaican National Dance Theatre Company) commented on the work of Mr. Mason, “Lloyd Mason is a well known bass player who can read music very well and is an absolute asset for musicians in his company.”


Selected Cuts:

Off the “I Cover the Water Front” LP

Port-O-Jam Records, Recorded at Federal Studios

Featuring Cecil Lloyd (Piano), Lloyd Mason (Bass), Roland Alphonso (Tenor Saxophone), Lowell Morris (Drums), Don Drummond (Trombone)

“Sometimes I Am Happy”

“Loafers and Wristless”

“Grooving With The Beat”


Off the “Jazz Jamaica” LP,

Studio One Records, Recorded at Federal Studios

Featuring Don Drummond (Trombone), Ernest Ranglin (Guitar), Cecil Lloyd (Piano), Carl McLeod (Drums), Billy Cooke (Trumpet), Tommy McCook (Tenor Saxaphone), Roland Alphonso (Tenor Saxophone), Lloyd Mason (Bass).

“Calypso Jazz”

“Serenade In Sound” (Featuring Don Drummond) b

“The Answer” (Featuring Tommy McCook)

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