Melbourne, Australia-based musician Jake Dominic Savona became active in the mid-’90s as a keyboardist, solo artist, and producer. With a heavy focus on reggae and dancehall, he began performing under the moniker Mista Savona and made a name for himself in Australian reggae circles. Early on he collaborated frequently with acts like Diafrix and Illzilla, and he also inspired collaborations between like-minded artists. His first solo release was 2001’s Bass & Roots, followed in 2004 by Invasion Day, but it was the star-studded 2007 album Melbourne Meets Kingston that gained Savona worldwide recognition. The album consisted of tracks cultivated by Savona over a four-year period and brought together big names from both the Australian and Jamaican reggae scenes for original collaborative tracks.
This successful formula was repeated on 2011’s Warn the Nation, which featured huge names like Horace Andy, Capleton, and Alton Ellis in what would be one of the latter’s final recordings. Around this time Savona began traveling to Jamaica to work with dancehall legend Sizzla. The two artists spent the next three years working toward 2014’s critically acclaimed full-length Born a King. In 2017, Savona masterminded the ambitious Havana Meets Kingston album. Expanding the concept of bringing together different regional reggae scenes, the album documented studio collaborations between legendary musicians from Cuba and Jamaica as they burned through productions blueprinted by Mista Savona. The album was accompanied by a documentary film that chronicled the recording process, which took place in Havana.