Leon 'Smooth' Edwards
Arranger, Trinidad All Stars
When Steel Talks spoke with a quietly delighted Leon
'Smooth' Edwards, winning arranger for the prestigious 2007 Trinidad and Tobago
National Panorama Championship on the Sunday after the competition.
Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra's execution of his arrangement of De Fosto's
Pan Lamentation earned the orchestra the ultimate title of panorama
champions - in addition to a
one-million dollar (TT) prize purse, simultaneously
denying the defending champions Phase II Pan Groove their much-desired hat
Smooth said he was very happy for the
members of All Stars, because many of them had been striving
for that championship title in recent years. The
glee of the band's youngest players was particularly warming
to Smooth. The last time the band took home the top prize
was in 2002, also with another De Fosto composition called
Pandora. The veteran musician says De
Fosto (Winston Scarborough) "seems to be the 'present day
Kitch;' he seems to have the material that is
conducive to winning a panorama. I naturally gravitate
toward that sort of music." Smooth was referring to
the late Lord Kitchener aka Aldwyn Roberts, whose music
dominated the panorama scene during his lifetime.
Asked about any particular measures that
were in place to ensure victory, Smooth summed it all up by
aptly describing Trinidad All Stars as a 'final night band.'
"That's the time you win a panorama...with the available
material to do the job."
When the results were announced, the
arranger himself was not in the Skinner Park panorama venue,
but was in fact just across the street with a group of the
band's musicians, in the compound owned by Neal and Massy,
the band's corporate sponsor. The site had been the
headquarters for the orchestra while they were in San
Fernando for the competition.
Describing the scene of jubilant chaos
When Steel Talks, Smooth especially remembers
the immediate reaction of the orchestra's younger members,
'the kids,' as he fondly refers to them. They were
'running all around, banging the covers of the stands
[canopies], etc. Then they 'spotted' the arranger and
'descended' on him with [hugs] kisses, lifting him up, and
to hear him re-tell it: 'held him captive for five minutes.'
"It was a frenzy. So as soon as they settled down, I
slipped out, you know, before another bunch come!" said
Smooth. The expected onslaught was from the next wave
that would arrive within seconds from Skinner Park
Exclusive post-panorama interview
with Leon 'Smooth' Edwards - Champion arranger, Trinidad All Stars
Days prior to the competition, held for
the first time in San Fernando, south Trinidad, Smooth had
expressed fears about the logistics for the return of the
band instruments' 30-mile plus trek back north to
Port-of-Spain, in time for J'Ouvert preparation. The
obviously-relieved arranger reported that the return journey
was fine and he was 'thankful that things worked out well.'
The long-time member of, and arranger for
All Stars lives in the US, and will be returning home on
Saturday, exactly one week after the euphoria of winning.
His regular professional commitments kick in almost
immediately upon his return.