Toronto had a sizeable West Indies population by the late 1960s, including many ex-pat Jamaican musicians, one of whom was Jerry Brown, who left Kingston for Canada in 1968. A car body repairman by trade, Brown was soon established enough to turn his attention to his first love, making music, and he built a recording studio in the basement of his Malton, Ontario residence. Dubbed Summer Sound, the studio was soon a center for the area's Jamaican reggae artists, a community that included such high ranking names as Studio One veterans Jackie Mittoo
, Leroy Sibbles
of the Heptones
, and songwriter Willi Williams. Brown produced a solid body of work out of his little studio between 1974 and 1988, a sampling of which is presented on this delightful 15-track set from Light in the Attic Records. From the first track, Johnny Osbourne
's gorgeous "Love Makes the World Go Round," the B-side to Summer's first single release in 1974, it's obvious that something special was going on in Toronto some thirty years ago. There's so much to like here, including the zippy, skipping dub version of "Awakening" by Earth, Roots & Water
(featuring John Forbes and Teach), Noel Ellis' impressive and expansive "Reach My Destiny" (Noel's father was rocksteady great Alton Ellis
), and Willi Williams' concise and infectious "Run Them a Run," which makes use of a drum machine and a DJ ambience that gives it a kind of surprisingly contemporary hip-hop feel. The sound of these tracks is full and warm, uncluttered and clear, and matches if not exceeds the sound that was coming out of Kingston studios at the time, making Summer one of the best kept secrets in either hemisphere. Unfortunately, Brown was never able to effectively break his productions out of the regional market, and financial considerations forced him to close the studio in 1988, after which he returned to his native Jamaica. But he left large footprints in Canada, and the proof is here.