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Despite the brevity of their career (from ’64 to ’65), the Skatalites managed to play a crucial role in the creation of ska, rocksteady, and reggae. As demonstrated on last year’s retrospective Foundation Ska, the nine Jamaican instrumentalists seamlessly blended jazz horns and Caribbean mento with New Orleans R&B guitars and African burro drumming to create a kinetic, bouncy new form. But the group’s success was due in large part to having enough nightclub smarts to restrict its members’ instrumental skills from growing self-indulgent or overwhelming the skipping, danceable flow of their songbook (which includes movie-theme covers from Exodus and The Guns of Navarone). After reuniting in 1983 with four of the founding members, the current Skatalites make a habit of playing with guest musicians to offer more than nostalgia; their wonderful 1995 recording Hi-Bop Ska! has striking hornwork from original member Tommy McCook and guest jazz cat David Murray, while their new release, Ball of Fire, includes contributions from their first guitarist’s mentor, longtime ska, jazz, and reggae instrumentalist Ernest Ranglin. With the Smooths and Skalicious at 7 p.m. at the Capital Ballroom, 1015 Half St. SE. $12. (202) 554-1500. (Steve Kiviat)