Steelband Panorama 2011

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Panorama Notes 2011

by Dalton Narine

Panorama 2011Trinidad & Tobago - The 2011 Panorama wormed its way through the Carnival, resistant to salt in its wounds. So it didn’t fold and die. Or tip open a Pandora’s Box of unbridled angst.

Panorama came home and made us comfortable, spinning tales that opened our eyes to its truth and our hearts for its soul.

It is in such context the following notes were written, to be shared for its pithy eloquence, even induce a laugh or two.

Leon “Smooth” Edwards, Arranger, Trinidad All Stars (Panorama morning, 1:00):  “Trust me, we WILL win tonight. This song is every bit a classic as Curry Tabanca, Unknown Band, Woman on the Bass and Soca Warriors. When I do stuff like this I expect it to make history based on how the public accepts it. And this is no different. All Stars is about show, and we’ve put the show in “It’s Show Time.”

Clive “Zanda” Alexander, architect and musician: “‘It’s Show Time’ by All Stars was a true reflection of the rhapsodical aspect of SHOOOOW TIIIME, a serious interpretation; not a matter of taking things and pushing them here and there. The guys had the power of execution to do it. Silver Stars didn’t give me all of that. I had given Phase II the edge because the band was able to organically take all the elements of music, and give you a conclusion that satisfies all the elements of music in terms of balance, energy, drive and rhythmic interpretation.”

“What I heard in Boogsie’s music was the ability to build a composition with a rhythmic feel, and to take that rhythm through the music and express it and broaden it and extend it. “Do Something for Pan” comes out of the speech rhythm of Do Something for Pan, Do Something for Pan; and you hear it in his whole arrangement organically flowing out with 3-Dimensional ideas. Boogsie was able to play three rhythmic feel at the same time. That’s a mind that’s 3-Dimensional.”

Errol Skerritt, manager, Phase II: “When Boogsie was composing “Do Something for Pan”, he felt hurt inside because enough is not being done to promote the instrument. I saw the frustration coming out on the keyboard. The melodic structure of the tune is based on frustration. The minor reflects sadness and melancholy, and he also used it to reflect his love for pan. Not to attack Pan Trinbago, though his style is aggressive.”

Franklyn Ollivierra, Steel Band Development Officer, Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism:  “The tune should be 8 minutes, and we have 30 minutes worth of music. Boogsie has so much music to waste but he wants to give back, and that means arranging for other bands while having an understudy in each.  But they won’t let him.”

Dudley Dickson, pan tuner from London:  “Phase II brought me here to tune their pans. I spent three months doing just that. I tuned the front line and middle pans, and Butch Kelman did the basses. Sure, it’s a winning band. I hardly work for a band that comes second.”

Arranger Arddin Herbert
Arddin Herbert

Arddin Herbert, Arranger for Invaders and Power Stars:  “I do music for an overall sound, allowing history to say ‘this is what Arddin Herbert was about.’ I would think what I have is unique, not a carbon copy of other arrangers. I arrange in the panyard. I like the vibes and energy there - doing it on the fly. ”

Liam Teague, associate professor of music, NIU, arranger for Starlift:  “I go for more impact in terms of power, and try to maintain a nice balance between musicality and getting the audience involved, and to please the adjudicators as well. It’s quite a balancing act.”

“When I arrange a piece of music, I look at the elements of the melody, like using motifs that stick out to me and would stand out. And I try different ways of manipulating those motifs, be it rhythmically or harmonically. I strive for a lot of melodic material in the basses and other times they’re more complimental. As a composer I think about the full spectrum.”

“Re: Renegades taking Pan Trinbago to court, I understand a band’s passion, especially since you have to work so hard for Panorama, months of practicing. So if they felt they were unjustly served by whatever element they complained about, I can understand their wanting to be in the finals. In the interest of fairness, I think things worked out the best way.”

Sean Whiskey, former vice captain, Laventille Sound Specialists:  “[Clive] Bradley’s brain should be kept in a university so they could do research on what he was thinking and where he was going. Just search for his creative process.”

Yohan Popwell, Arranger, Harmonites:  “What I picked up working with [Leon] “Smooth” [Edwards] - he’ll take a melody, forget whatever bass line is on the recording, then do his own bass line to enhance the melody. The only difference between me and “Smooth” is that I pay more attention to chord structure. “Smooth” uses his ears more. Re: repetition in Panorama, find a way to use a sample that would be distinctly yours and not even resemble somebody else’s work.”

Mia Gormandy, tenor panist, Trinidad All Stars: “I’m finishing up my Masters and will be graduating in May at NIU [Northern Illinois University]. I’ve applied to different schools to do my PhD in ethnomusicology.  I plan to teach at the university level, start up a few steel band programs (because there’s not enough), teach ethnomusicology, perform - in Trinidad, ideally both.”

“I love Smooth’s arrangement. There are so many aspects that show off the instrument, from the POV [point of view] of the frontline pans. ”

“I’m not a big arranger. I’m more of a performer, a teacher and I do transcriptions as well.”

Etienne Charles, Jazz trumpeter and associate professor, jazz trumpet, Michigan State University: “Phase II was my most profound musical education, by far. In terms of style, in terms of the importance of rhythm and memorizing music. Find me another place in the world where 125 musicians memorize 10 minutes of music to play together with this type of rhythm.  Find me another place on Earth where that happens - with this type of funk and energy.”

“Boogsie is innovation within tradition because you could tell he’s rooted to a Trinidadian tradition, but the Trinidadian musical tradition is that of innovation, because we’re an island in the New World. So Boogsie brings funk and blues and you could hear the roots of Kitchener, Ed Watson, Frankie Francis in his arrangements”.

“Boogsie has done so much for Pan in his life, from the days of touring with Monty Alexander to arranging for Phase II for 40 years. I grew up playing Pan and his groove did something to me. So he ‘did something for Pan’ AND music.”

Boogsie Sharpe, Arranger, Phase II: “Pan has become stagnant and we need qualified people to run the organization. Then people will have more respect for Pan. We need someone with business skills.”

“In “Do Something for Pan”, I did brand new music, so why don’t they ‘do something new’ for Pan. They can’t be innovative if they’re stupid and have no sense, not smart. I say the president bought a new Benz weeks after he took office. Pan people don’t talk about that. So I put it in a song. Now, it doesn’t get much airplay - if any at all.”

“All he needs to do is make sure that nine months a year - it have Pan out of this country. Ninety per cent of steel bands should be out of this country for nine months. So many festivals around the world where we could play. The world really hasn’t discovered this instrument yet, you know.”

“What degree Mr. Diaz, Forteau and others in the organization have? They’re all numbskulls. Different president, same damn thing. They have no vision. I ask all of them:  give me three events they’ve done that were successful. None of them can answer.”

Contact Dalton Narine - narine67@bellsouth.net 


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