New York -
Julius Caesar, Shakespeare wrote of the Roman warrior “The evil
that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with
their bones.” So let it not be with Clive Bradley. I
implore us all to remember the music that Bradley provided for
us, the lion’s share of which was played on the pan.
Clive Bradley was renowned in
the pan community for his arrangements for the likes of
Pandemonium and Nutones, but he is mostly associated with the
Desperadoes Steel Orchestra. Somehow Bradley was able to
capture musically the pulse of the people of Laventille Hill and
communicate the essence of the people to the audience. The
audiences were invariably moved, as evidently were the judges.
Clive Bradley (in black cap) on stage
with D’Radoes Steel Orchestra
Bradley also had a huge
presence on the New York Panorama scene; over the years
arranging for Metro Steel Orchestra, Pantonic Steel Orchestra,
and D’Radoes Steel Orchestra.
He had an
obvious soft spot for the Pantonic Steel Orchestra, many of whom
he had seen grow up in pan from childhood to adulthood.
arrangements endured over decades. From Margie to Picture on My
Wall; from Dingolay to Action the arranger always had something
new to bring on the scene. Indeed, after a long hiatus after
his win with Rebecca (one can best describe these as the Jit and
Boogsie years), Bradley showed up in Arima to bring Nutones to
the forefront with a gripping arrangement of David Rudder’s High
Teacher, musician, arranger.
Bradley brought to the forefront not only his understanding of
music, but of the people and the culture of Trinidad. He
displayed this understanding in 2004 when he conjured up spine
chilling images of Obeah in his arrangement of Shadow’s
Cocoyea for Witco Desperadoes. He then went on to arrange the
same tune for D’Radoes in New York, and made it a totally
different song – more in line with the urban environment in
which it was to be played.
In his recent interviews with
Basement Recordings during the 2005 Panorama season Bradley
indicated that he had been doing this since 1968, and that he
had had enough. In a statement that is almost eerie in its
prescience, he said that the only thing that he was planning to
do in 2006 was nothing.
Trinidad is lucky. Their
musical geniuses walk the earth. These same men give their
best to the instrument most identified with T&T. In addition,
these brilliant minds are accessible. People can say that they
remember conversations with them. People old and young have
anecdotes to share about their encounters with Bradley. In this
time when our legends are typically images on a television
screen this is a rare and precious gift which we should not take
It is customary to offer
condolences to the family of the deceased. I wholeheartedly do
this, but Bradley’s family extends to the entire pan community.
Clive Bradley was a celebration of a spirit of music within an
entire people. He will be sorely missed.
Angela Howard has
performed with D'Radoes, NY Nutones and Pan Rebels
steel orchestras. Additionally, Angela is a
contributor to When Steel Talks.
here for more great Bradley moments with When Steel Talks