The Toronto Historical Jukebox: "Soul Bird" by Jackie Mittoo

Jackie Mittoo was one of the greatest Jamaican musicians ever — which is really saying something. He was discovered as a teenager in the 1960s by Coxsone Dodd, the legendary record producer who founded Studio One and also discovered Bob Marley. Mittoo played keyboards for some of the best bands in Jamaican history: The Skatalites, The Soul Vendors and Sound Dimension; Pitchfork calls them "three of the greatest house bands of the 60s... anywhere not just in Jamaica". But by the end of the decade, he was ready for a fresh start. And so Mittoo joined a growing wave of immigration heading north from the Caribbean to the booming Canadian metropolis of Toronto.

Here, he started playing local clubs — like the expat West Indian after-hours joint, Club Tropics (on Queen just east of Yonge). While he always kept close ties to home — returning frequently to record in Jamaica — he also became a leading figure in Toronto's suddenly incredible reggae scene. It was in 1971 that he recorded an album called Wishbone, which was recently listed by NOW Magazine as one of the greatest albums in the history of our city. It included this track, "Soul Bird", one of many joyous, horn-drenched tunes on a record Mittoo himself once called "a blast of sunshine from the islands":


You can buy Jackie Mittoo's Wishbone as part of Light In The Attic's amazing "Jamaica To Toronto" series of reissues here.

You can listen to more songs from the Toronto Historical Jukebox here.

Posted by Adam Bunch, the Editor-in-Chief of the Little Red Umbrella and the creator of the Toronto Dreams Project and the Toronto Historical Jukebox. You can read his posts here, follow him on Twitter here, or email him at


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