New York Steel Band Panorama 2005
A Reaffirmation of the Power of
Unique Sound - Pan Launch
Utopia Pan Soul: The Next
Generation, Dem Stars, and
Brooklyn, New York -
if you're a grouch, prude or not into steelband music, Unique Sound's
steelband launch was not the place for you. As a matter of fact no
steelband launch will be good for you. Don't come to a New York
steelband launch. You're going to be tortured. There is nothing
else there but pan instruments, steelpan music and lots of steelpan people
from toddlers to retirees enjoying themselves and the moment.
other hand, if you wish to see from the very young, to the elders in the
community identify with each other, interact positively, have fun, display their talents and grow in front your very eyes, a steelband launch
is just the place for you. Indeed the steelpan phenomenon is one of the
few social movements that has, from its inception, been an un-litigated success
at improving the human condition in addition to being at the forefront at
increasing the appreciation and quality of life of humans who partake in and
cross the path of, the steelpan and its music. Furthermore this truth is
not region-specific. Across the globe from Australia to Brooklyn this
truth is in effect and displayed daily.
Members of Unique Sound
At this launch one had to ask "why do toddlers sing and smile when they
steelband music? And elders who come with a limp and all sorts of similar physical
aliments, have their pains disappear as they chip and sway to the music?"
Every New York steelband launch is different and
presents its own characteristics and personality. This Saturday night's
event was organized by Unique Sound Steel Orchestra. The launch was
special as it was this incarnation of Unique Sound's maiden voyage in the world of the performing
steel orchestra. They stepped up to the plate and performed well with
the encouragement of a very supportive crowd. Iman Pascall, already a
noted New York steel pannist was at the helm of this group as arranger,
director, and teacher. She introduced the group members as this
was their inaugural performance as pan players.
Also present were Sesame Flyers, Dem Stars and Utopia
Pan Soul: The Next Generation. There was storytelling
through their musical selections and arrangements, and the individual
group's respective interpretations of each piece. When you listen to
each group, their lineages and tribal customs unique to each, come through
loud and clear. Let's just call it an ethnomusicologist's dream.
Information, history and style are all passed on and communicated to the
audience who are the "villagers."
Cases in point: Utopia Pan Soul and their take
on Nora Jones' I Don't Know Why, with a traditional Afro-Caribbean
approach; Sesame Flyers with the complete and true reggae form of Bob
Marley's classic "Pimper's Paradise," and Dem Stars' aptly
wooing "Lady In Red" - accomplished all this and more.
Gone are many of the tribal taboos that
kept bands from interacting with each other. Young pannists from
different steel orchestras all know each
other and greet each other, in some cases quite warmly. While they are still
vehemently loyal to
their respective organizations, they can and do interact positively and support each
other in the name of the steelpan art form.
Yohan Popwell, arranger for Sonatas is an example of
the cooperative support that can and does in some cases, operate in the pan
world. He is present on his own personal initiative even when Sonatas
is not performing. He has been clearly visible at almost every launch.
Michael Joseph of Harmony is yet another illustration of support within the
pan community. He is just one of the leaders who shows support
with his presence at events even when his band is not performing. And
finally, and just as importantly, the pan players themselves frequent each
other's events whether they are slated to play or not.
Sesame Flyers Steel
If you can't support your own [art form] - who will? Folks are
beginning to acknowledge the importance of the bigger picture and the
necessity of lending support to each other by their mere presence.
This surpasses some of the inherent differences that have kept bands distant
from each other in the past.
The Unique Sound launch experience was special in two
ways. The young people brought a fresh perspective and excitement,
that is apparent at each performing opportunity. And we also saw new torches being lit and
other torches passed on
to up-and-coming groups who will continue, pass on and reaffirm a time-honored system whose legacy is steeped in
the cultures and traditions of a great people. It is the ultimate celebration of
a community at work.
Saturday July 30, 2005
(CASYM, Pantonic, Marsicans,
Ambassadors, Steel Sensation, Utopia Pan Soul)
(CASYM, Pantonic, Marsicans,
Where Is The Steelband Panorama Program?
Pre-emptive SteelPan Strike
Pre-Steelband Panorama Concerns
Where is Yours?
Are The SteelPan Music Folks
Missing Something Here
Marsicans Band Launch
2005 Despers USA, Sesame Flyers, Sonatas and
Harmony Steel Launch
Pan Lights Up Central Brooklyn
Crossfire gets the 2005 New
York Pan Party started with a Bang!