The first Jamaican recording studio opened in 1951 and recorded "mento" music, a fusion of European and African folk dance music. The island was awash in rhythm`n`blues records imported by the so called "sound systems", eccentric traveling dance-halls run by no less eccentric disc-jockeys such as Clement Dodd (the "Downbeat") and Duke Reid (the "Trojan"). The poor people of the Jamaican ghettos, who could not afford to hire a band for their parties, had to content themselves with these "sound systems". The "selectors", the Jamaican disc-jockeys who operated those sound systems, became the real entertainers. The selector would spin the records and would "toast" over them. The art of "toasting", that usually consisted in rhyming vocal patterns and soon evolved in social commentary, became as important as the music that was being played.
In 1954 Ken Khouri started Jamaica`s first record label, "Federal Records". He inspired Reid and Dodd, who began to record local artists for their sound system. Towards the end of the 1950s, amateurs began to form bands that played Caribbean music and New Orleans` rhythm`n`blues, besides the local mento. This led to the "bluebeat" groups, which basically were Jamaica`s version of the New Orleans sound. They usually featured saxophone, trumpet, trombone, piano, drums and bass.
Soon the bass became the dominant instrument, and the sound evolved into the "ska". The "ska" beat had actually been invented by Roscoe Gordon, a Memphis pianist, with No More Doggin` (1951). Ska songs boasted an upbeat tempo, a horn section, Afro-American vocal harmonies, jazzy riffs and staccato guitar notes. scaruffi.com