Giant of the Titans
Jit Samaroo

There was a cosmic shift in the world steelband music force and every person who has ever been remotely involved in steelband music felt it - such was the greatness and importance of Dr. Jit Samaroo.

The messages of condolences, respect and tribute poured in from every sector of the globe as steelpan executives, players and fans representing the great steel orchestra franchises, ensembles, bands and pan organizations paid homage. Indeed, the When Steel Talks ‘Forum’ was alive and buzzing as folks from all over the world shared their memories and thoughts of the great Jit Samaroo.

When Steel Talks has had the great fortune of meeting and being around Jit Samaroo on a few occasions. He was as humble and pleasant, as he was intelligent and talented. Similar to other geniuses and men of great statue that we have met, you would never know that he was a giant in the room. Jit leaves behind a wealth of musical treasures that will thrill and capture the imagination of the world for generations. In addition, When Steel Talks has the utmost confidence in his son Amrit, who will not only contribute to the Samaroo musical legacy, but also pave new and bold pathways for the genre.

When Steel Talks

Jit Samaroo - When Steel Talks

the following -- As told to When Steel Talks - Pan past, present and future speak on Jit Samaroo


“Jit Samaroo was the consummate musician. He created a lasting body of wonderful music for the steel orchestra but his humility, his quiet strength, his willingness to share his knowledge and wealth of experience, left a blueprint for musical life. A blueprint that we all could and perhaps should follow. He embodied the spirit of respect. He gave it and he received it in droves. He moved through life simply and yet powerfully. He said little but conveyed so much. Greatness to me rests not only in the fantastic works of science, art or technology that one produces, but in how one treats others, how one moves through the world on a daily basis. Jit Samaroo was a great man and he will be missed.”

Dr. Dawn Batson - Educator, composer, panist, arranger, Chairperson for the Visual and Performing Arts, Professor of Music, noted conductor


“Jit is like a brother to me. We were good friends. He was a very humble person. I called him “little giant.” And a man who always fight for Pan. People wouldn’t know... he was talking about having Pan in schools on a regular basis... You know, even pan tuning... he fought for those things, but he was so humble, a great person. He stuck at getting pan in schools. Government come, government go [sic] - nobody cares - he was a good friend of mine - a champion - little giant.  He’s the only person to win three [Panorama championships] in a row. Nobody has ever done it --- we still trying.  He’s a nice person who I love and respect. And I have to also reach out to his family - to accept my condolences -- As I was telling somebody - Pan Trinbago should dedicate this Panorama to Jit. Yea - honor him, man... He’s a great icon...”

Len “Boogsie” Sharpe - Panorama Champion arranger, composer, panist, performing artist


“He was really a great arranger - musician. He has given us so much great music - I believe since 1974 - way back - when Cipriani Statue - can’t remember when that was but I know it was in the 70s. He was consistent and he brought that band Renegades into the forefront. He made Renegades one of the best bands in Trinidad. And I think it was largely due to his music. And to his dedication and discipline. I always found him to be very, very humble and he was a beautiful person. He kept his head. He didn’t let his head go into the clouds. He was down to earth. Very quiet. And a very special person to me. So that is the best thing I can say about him.”

Ray Holman - Champion Panorama arranger, composer, performing artist, educator


“It is sad when an angel has gone; we must keep his memories alive - RIP.”

Dr. Roy Cape - World-renowned ace musician and band leader


“Well, what can I say. We lost “Guppy” and then we lost Jit... And between that we lose someone from Starlift. The Pan community lost Raf Robertson too. Okay... We are losing people too often - maybe I shouldn’t say that because the Lord knows best. That’s what the old people does [sic] say. Right... But it is still a loss, you know. Jit was ill for some time - over ten years. It was really good of him to produce apart from Panorama music, he produced a son who could hold his own and take over where he left off.  So he still leave a good legacy.  I think the whole of the pan world will be in mourning -- Panorama starting tonight [January 8]; I don’t know if Pan Trinbago will have some silence before it starts... It seem [sic] like anytime Carnival come around there is some kind of loss... in the cultural community... but my condolences on behalf of my family, go out to his family.”

Pelham Goddard - Champion Panorama arranger, producer, composer, panist, performing artist...


“Well, I was very saddened to hear that Jit passed. I know that he was ill for a long time. Our rapport was always the best. I found him to be a warm friendly, person. His music was always over the top of the charts. He was always a great musician and a good friend to me. I would go into Renegades yard at any time and he would always greet me. We had a pretty good relationship. It saddened me greatly to see him pass.”

Beverly Griffith - Champion Panorama arranger, performing musician


“Well how do I begin....Jit Samaroo was always a name that was embedded in my memory since I was small. Growing up with his music always being the prevalent measuring stick to what the elders around me felt a panorama arrangement should sound like, and for many most obvious reasons they were right. He was really unique. Humble, quiet, but always intuitive to what was happening within the band. I think he has been missed for a long time now honestly from the Panorama arena. The platform he leaves behind for us follow is so great it’s almost incomparable. I always compared his music to the music of Bach in the sense of its technicality, brisk movements, but yet still raw emotion that can’t be taught. Jit is a legend. I’m grateful to have been in his presence and witnessed his greatness.”

Andre White - Performing artist, composer, Panorama arranger


“What struck me most about his arrangements was the bold musical phrasing. When I first started to dive deep into pan music, I was immediately drawn to his playfully adventurous approach to melody and rhythm...I can say that he had a significant impact on how I compose for my own band. I always wanted to meet the genius. My condolences to his family and to the extended steel band family.”

Jonathan Scales - Noted performing steelpan recording artist, musician


“The first time I heard Jit’s epic masterpiece arrangement of Kitchener’s “Pan In A Minor,” I was blown away and have been influenced by his musical energy ever since. Jit Samaroo's spirit will forever be with the pan community - he has taught us all to be a Renegade.”

Andy Akiho - Noted performing recording artist, panist, composer, arranger, percussionist, educator


“The world has lost a great asset; a great musician, father and friend. Dr. Jit Samaroo has left us physically but left with us his works of art that will live on for years to come. 

“Dr. Jit definitely influenced my arranging style and I am blessed to have met him some years ago. To the family of the late Dr. Jit, stay blessed, don't mourn his passing but celebrate his life and the wonderful things he has done.  From Antigua and Barbuda, “Play on Jit, play on.”

Khan Cordice - Panist, panorama arranger, performing artist


“When I met with him first time, there was almost no exchanges about steel pan between Japan and Trinidad. Since we had met under such a situation, he is a symbol for me, that means the encounter with Trinidad and me.

“I remember well the day I visited him in the Renegades panyard. He had warmly welcomed the visit of this Japanese novice. He said, “Take your time and have fun.”

“I was overwhelmed by his dynamic, beautiful and complex arrangements at that time. What a huge universe exists in a little body!

“Since then I've been fascinated by his arrangement and researched it. He became one of the major persons I ‘chase’ (pursued and studied).

“It's the same even today. For example, when I got lost about arrangement of my tune and needed help for my composition just six months ago, I remembered his song and found out a hint to proceed.

“A great musician never fade away.  He is a treasure trove of rich inspirations. Thank you so much, Maestro!  His leave from the earth is so big a sadness for me. It is a big loss for the steelpan world.  But we'll carry on your music with all of us.”

Yoshihiro Harada - Panist, arranger, performing artist and composer


“The passing of Dr. Jit Samaroo has surely left a solemn melody to be renditions within the steel pan fraternity. His musical compositions have indeed awarded him the prestige and honor of being a legendary arranger. While his death has struck hard many of the ingenious and melodious arrangements have been left behind as lullabies for our somber spirits. As he has moved to the great beyond, the solid foundation of his skill and passion will forever live on.”

Vernetta Paul - President of the St. Lucia Steelband Association


“The first time I was introduced to Dr. Samaroo’s music, I was in a car heading to a Panorama rehearsal. Prior to playing pan I always had an affinity to Bach’s counterpoint. Then I met Jit’s work with Renegades Steel Orchestra and almost abandoned Euro-music studies.

“‘Pan In A Rage’ stuck with me so much that I learned it by ear (much to the annoyance of my parents at the time to have a 15-year-old play a CD track 30 times a day). Repetition withstanding, eventually I arranged my own version and used that arrangement to win a scholarship to Florida Memorial University.

“I’ve long missed the agile arrangement of this genius but I am confident that Amrit will dig just as deeply into the legacy of the “Samaroo music” I owe a large part of my current arranging ability to Dr. Samaroo. Thank you.”

Khuent Rose - Performing musician, educator, arranger, panist


“Jit Samaroo, the man who redefined Panorama music and raised the level of virtuosity for players, has passed away. Jit created a musical vocabulary that continues to dominate steel band arrangement. In every Panorama competition, in any part of the world, you’re guaranteed to hear Jit’s lines and witness his orchestral techniques display. RIP Dr. Samaroo.”

Garvin Blake - Performing artist, panist


“It was very shocking to hear about the passing of Dr. Jit Samaroo yesterday. I had the pleasure of meeting him at The World Steel Band Festival in 2000. I have always enjoyed his arrangements especially the way he use the middle section of the orchestra in his arrangements. He took Panorama to a different level with his intricate arrangements. He was a very humble individual. The steel band world has lost another great musician. May his music live on. Rest in Peace Maestro Jit!”

Zavid Seales - Panist, Secretary/Treasurer of Angel Harps, Grenada.


“I unfortunately never met Jit. His arrangements though I am very, very familiar with. One of the true masters of the art form. We are all grateful for his time here. His spirit will live on in his music.”

Etienne Charles - Jazz musician, recording artist


“If you knew Jit Samaroo, even just a little, you almost certainly would have concluded that you were not likely to ever again meet someone so self-effacing, someone for whom the concept of having airs was forbidden territory, and yet someone in whom resided such rare artistic gifts, such towering talent.

“I first interacted with Jit in 2001 when our T&T Folk Arts Institute presented our “Legends of Pan” event. Although we had designated the early 1970s as the marker (well before Jit’s phenomenal nine Panorama titles), by which time selected “legends” would have had to evidence highly distinctive achievement in the pan world, we felt that Jit’s extraordinary socio-cultural path leading to becoming the Renegades arranger was indeed the stuff of legend. We brought Jit to New York, along with other titans of the art form, for what was a truly unforgettable and historic weekend. Jit appreciated being there, but surely not nearly as much as we appreciated having him.

“As we mourn his incalculable loss, my colleagues and I salute this creative standout and remarkable personification of the best of the human spirit. Thank you, Jit, for having so richly blessed us with your presence. Bon voyage, gentle genius. And how wonderful it is that your son Amrit seems poised to continue walking the trail.”

Les Slater - Director and founder of the Folk Arts Institute of  Trinidad & Tobago in New York


“Anybody who knows me knows that music is practically a religion to me, and at the head of my pantheon stands Jit Samaroo. It was his music for Renegades and Samaroo Jets that changed my life and led me to where I am today. I believe 100% in the Samaroo Sound which to me is sacred. So the news of his passing hit me hard even though I know he had been battling that terrible disease for a long time and can now finally rest.

“I consider myself fortunate to have been able to play at Renegades a couple times before he retired. In the years since, through working and hanging out with Amrit I would see Jit at various events, family limes, or just at the house, and despite being a man of few words and of slight physical stature his presence was always enormous. Even so, he was very much a people person, and very kind. He always remembered me and my humble role from when I played at Renegades and would ask how I was going.

“Since his passing was announced, I have enjoyed reading and hearing all the stories that so many people have about him. I would like to relate a story of my own that has personal significance. The first year I was at Renegades, he was trying to work out a particular part of the tune and asked for input from the players. Though I was pretty green and not even playing a pan but was in the rhythm, I had an idea and felt bold enough to walk up to him during a break and suggest it. I added the disclaimer acknowledging that yes, I was a first-timer and a foreigner at that, at which point he stopped me in my tracks and said, “Listen, there is no color or nationality in this thing - only music.” It was a simple and logical but powerful affirmation that stuck with me and has kept me going whenever I’ve had any self-doubt or encountered any resistance from others as I try to move ahead in pan.

“As for Jit’s considerable genius, accomplishments, and influence on the artform I can’t say much more that hasn’t already been said but I will say this: knowing the rest of his family it is clear that the same thoughtfulness Jit put into his music also led him to make sure he spread his talent, humility, and generosity to his kin. That has most visibly manifested itself in the musical realm as Samaroo Jets, Steel Sensation, and most recently Supernovas - all family endeavors that are unassuming yet exceptional in their execution. I remember when Supernovas first came out, Jit visited the yard to see us in our embryonic stage, clearly proud of that next phase of the family’s musical journey just the same as a father would be proud of his child graduating or getting married. While he was a musical giant, an exponent of his culture, and a shining example of how to responsibly handle one’s talent, it must be remembered that he was also simply a nurturing family man.

“At this tough time my thoughts are with his wonderful wife, children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews, many loving friends, and his home village of Surrey. While we all mourn this loss, I know that in the end he was surely overflowing with pride in his family’s continuing accomplishments. Amrit is a chip off the old block to say the least and in his hands Jit’s legacy will only continue to grow.

“Rest In Peace, my idol, my inspiration, my influence: Dr. Jit Sukha Samaroo. This one, like all the other ones, is for you!”

Noah Smit - Panorama drummer, musician, steelpan enthusiast


“My thoughts on the passing of Jit Samaroo.

“The world has lost an Icon in Jit Samaroo; his music not only belongs to Trinidad & Tobago, but to the many steel pan music fans across the globe. Even though many of us knew of his illness his death is still shocking. I will always have total respect for Jit because he was very humble, though his music spoke to the masses loud and clear. My first encounter with Jit Samaroo’s music came in 1984 with his arrangement of Lord Kitchener’s ‘Sweet Pan’ performed by Renegades. What I liked most about Jit’s music was the uniqueness of his arrangement especially his counterpoints and three-four timing, in which Jit used so well. Jit along with the late Clive Bradley made steel bands sound like orchestras which is a gift within itself. My best memory of Jit presented itself in 1989 when he arranged ‘Somebody’ for Renegades, which I believe is a classic arrangement.

“The way he arranged his middle pans and rhythm changes were chic and well-thought out. I am pretty sure his music will live on forever, through the countless scores he wrote, and not forgetting his son Amrit Samaroo, a young man in a class all by himself in my opinion. The steel pan world should be thankful for the music Jit Samaroo has produced, many of us can learn from this musical giant. I would like to extend my condolences to the Samaroo family, and also let them know we all loved and respected Mr. Jit Samaroo.”

Lyndon Spencer - Panist, Panorama arranger


“Jit has been one of the greatest musical minds our country, and I will even go as far as to say the world, will ever experience. He was a giant amongst giants the likes of Bradley, “Boogsie,” “Professor,” Robbie, “Smooth” and others, during what I would call “The Golden Era of Pan”: the 70s, 80s and early 90s. Jit had his very own style. Once you heard it, it was easy to tell. His method of orchestration was genius. He was the Trinidadian “Bach” from Lopinot, arranging for Renegades with his countless amounts of counter melodies that overlapped each other and with his great sense of motivic development which demanded the listener’s attention. His attention to detail was sublime; every instrument/section within the band had something musically interesting to say. Though with his humble, subtle personality and stature, his music had an enormous voice.

“I was star-struck seeing and meeting Jit for the first time. I was expecting someone different, instead of this little Indian guy, who was kind, loving, approachable and very down to earth. His words of encouragement would live with me for the rest of my life. I wished Trinidad and Tobago really paid attention to our musical art form and the arts in general, for Jit might have had a statue, museum or a library to experience before his death. We’ve lost another great one. Bradley welcomes a great musical adversary. Farewell to the humble little giant, Jit Samaroo. May you rest in peace.”

Leon “Foster” Thomas - Performing artist, panist, Panorama arranger


“Well, Jit was a great arranger as we all know but dude was mad chill and humble! Maaaaaddddd love every time I saw him!! One of the best arrangements he did in New York was ‘Movin’ to De Left’........loved it! I started the band Steel Sensation with Ian Japsi!!!! Jit gave us a lot of love and support!!! I loved the fact that he scored all of his music with beautiful liner passages that were so theoretically perfect!!! I got a chance to play a couple years under his guidance and it was awesome!!! His band Samaroo Jets was a major inspiration in my life!!! The Samaroo Jets album made me love Pan even more!!!”

Freddy Harris, III - Performing artist, musician, producer, panist, Panorama arranger


“Absolutely! Jit Samaroo is an arranger I’ve admired for as long as I can remember. I marveled at the way he constructed his beautiful stories by traveling through time with music. His use of intricate melodies exchanging between the different voices of the pans effortlessly was truly poetry in motion. I would forever remember the impact he has made on myself as an arranger but more importantly the pan community. He will be missed, but his works will live on and can definitely be used as teaching tools for generations to come. I’m honored to have had the pleasure of meeting a true legend and icon.”

Kendall Williams - Educator, panist, Panorama arranger, performing artist, composer


“When I was 13 yrs old I began playing pan with Sesame Flyers steel Orchestra. I always heard Mr. Keith Marcelle (band manager) speak about the works of now Dr. Jit Samaroo. He was very descriptive about Jit’s unique arranging style mentioning about the complexity/technicality of his arrangements, his clever usage of the middle pans, his innovative Rhythm changes, and his overall incorporation of the Rhythm section which made for the timeless pieces we study today.

“Shortly after my first panorama in 1999, my father gave me a CD called “Pan Sweet Pan” which had the works of about 7 bands. There was no label on the CD and so I had no way of knowing who was who. Upon listening, I grew particularly attached to track 3 and told myself that based on what was described to me, that had to be Renegades and Jit! A few months after I discovered that the track I had been listening to constantly was a slow version of Jit’s “Pan In Ah Rage”.

“Once I made this discovery I began to listen to and analyze the work of Jit as much as I could and this sparked my interest in arranging overall.

“I’ve had the privilege of playing Jit’s music in 2001 when he came to arrange for Sesame that year and little did I know that his recommendation played a part in me joining the band Steel Sensation which was headed by his nephew Ian Japsi and under the musical direction of Amrit Samaroo.

“I can honestly say and many would agree, that Jit is a Pan pioneer in every sense of the word and I am truly fortunate to have met him and to have also been able to listen to his many great arrangements/compositions. He will surely be missed but his work will live on forever!”

Marc Brooks - Educator, panist, Panorama arranger


“I met the man through his music a few years ago. My first impression was that he had to be something of an eccentric. On many occasions I tried to imagine Jit in common situations – talking with friends, sharing music at the panyard, or teaching and interacting with the Renegades Youths. But I failed each time at composing an image of his character, because his music certainly didn’t match the stories I had been told of his quiet, affable nature and his aversion to the spotlight.

“Flamboyant – the word I would use to describe Jit’s music. I could see colours whirling out of the pans in reaction to his convoluted melodies and meandering chord progressions. There was a striking confidence in every single note that was indicative of a mastermind’s plot. All the components of his masterpieces were meticulously designed and well-balanced, with an underpinning surge of energy that propelled his ideas forward, relentlessly.

“There is much more that could be said about Dr. Jit Samaroo’s music from an analytical standpoint, but the true value of his life’s work will be made plain during the next 10 to 20 years, maybe even longer, as the present generation of music composers gird themselves with the knowledge, artistry and creative power left behind by the modest greats.”

Vanessa Headley - Composer, performing artist, Panorama arranger, panist


“I only met him once but, our encounter left a lasting Impression on me. He was a humble genius. Jit’s unwavering commitment to musical excellence and the expression of his musical vision inspired many steelpan aspirants. I believe it will continue to do so forever.”

Iman Pascall - Educator, panist, performing artist


“I am at a loss for words when I think about the passing of Dr. Jit Samaroo. His wide array of accomplishments did not simply benefit the world of steelpan in Trinidad, but it has placed Trinidad and Tobago on the world map. Just recently I met some Japanese panists who accredit their love for steelpan to Jit Samaroo and Renegades. In fact, seeing Renegades perform in Japan in the 1990s is the main reason they started playing the steelpan. Dr. Samaroo has indeed etched his name in our history books. As a result, we, the younger generations, need to pay homage to his legacy (and the legacies of so many that have passed on) by incorporating him into our lessons, acknowledging him when we are influenced by his arranging techniques, continuing to perform his highly-celebrated compositions, and most importantly being thankful for legends like Dr. Jit Samaroo who have worked hard to create a path for the rest of us. Although another great legend is gone, he will not be forgotten.”

Mia Gormandy - Educator, panist, performing artist


“Firstly, I would like to express my sadness for the loss of Dr. Jit Samaroo. He has influenced the life of steel pan in Japan in a great way. Jit Samaroo and Renegades came to Japan in 1992. They not only performed a memorable show, but they also conducted workshops, made steelpans available to Japanese musicians, and most importantly left a bit of Trinidadian culture with us. Jit Samaroo and Renegades have also influenced many Japanese panists to visit Trinidad for the National Panorama competition. His Panorama arrangement of “Pan in A Minor” has been performed hundreds of times here in Japan and as a result, has become a standard for many Japanese steelbands. On behalf of Japanese panists, I would like to thank Dr. Jit Samaroo for the legacy he has left with us.”

Yuki Nakano - Performing artist, panist


“My heart goes out to Jit’s family and care givers. Although this might have been what is best for Jit and those close to him given the present circumstances, Jit’s life was cut short by disease and we have been mourning him for many years already.

“The Samaroo Jets welcomed our family steelband into their home and village in 1987 after we met them playing by the poolside at the Hilton. We found ourselves with the most friendly and welcoming people eager to share their first-class knowledge of Pan and culture with us. Later I came to play with Renegades in 1992 when they played ‘The Bees’ Melody.’ I learned more about music in these two months playing under Jit’s direction than my previous 4 years studying music at a university. His formula of how to arrange a verse and chorus of a song has been a template which I have used ever since. The wizardry and genius with which he composed the different elements of a Panorama arrangement embedded in me a sense of how to make pure excitement and joy come from music. His melodic, counter melodic lines and complex phasing still bubble in my veins, still inspiring my every note. His music proves that success can only happen if you are making musical sense with your arrangement which is a hard lesson to us all. His passion for the players and dedication to hard work will drive me to follow in his footsteps. For me, Jit was both the Beethoven and Bach of Pan Music.

“I miss him dearly.”

Nigel Chase - Educator, musical director of Pan Coalition, panist, arranger


“The LIME Hells Gate Steel Orchestra, expresses deepest condolences to the family of Dr. Jit Samaroo and the world’s Pan Fraternity. May his legacy and unconditional dedication to the Steelpan art form, serve as the impetus for all those who profess that they love Pan, to physically get involved in the art form, and truly make it a part of their everyday living. Rest in Pan, Brother Samaroo.”

Stafford Joseph - Steelpan executive, panist, historian, Hells Gate Steel Orchestra 


“My three years of performing with Renegades Junior and Senior orchestras 2003-2006, I had a dose of both father and son.. Jit was very quiet and humble, people who don’t know his face would surely not know him because he was never too fond of the limelight.. I remember trying to get a picture with him and he told me he didn’t like to be in pictures much.. He always told me do my best as a panist and musician, especially when I told him I started arranging/soloing.. He was always a motivator to those who really had a personal relationship with him, and it didn’t have to be that close.. I surely missed him since he stopped arranging after contracting Alzheimer’s disease, and always went back to listen arrangements from him...”

Triston Shortz - Panorama arranger, musician


“A giant has passed on, the likes of which may never walk this country again. He was a musical genius who worked magic with pan, and also straddled the cultural boundaries like a colossus. He was, too, a most humble human being. To think that the younger generations know nothing of this man and his music. Lie down with the lions, among them 'bin Lion', my brother. RIP.”

Raffique Shah - Political commentator, journalist, cultural historian


“Just a single name encapsulates this slight man, what he became and the huge legacy he left pan and country.”

Dalton Narine - panist, journalist, Carnival and Panorama commentator and interviewer,
award winning film director.


read more - Global steelpan community pays respect to Dr. Jit Samaroo

Leave a comment in the WST Forum

 

Home * Site Search * Headlines * Events * News * Forum * Pan Global * Facebook * Twitter * Contact * About Us

Copyright 2016 -  When Steel Talks All Rights Reserved

Order your WST Tee Shirt now!
 WST TShirt