Trinidad All Stars
The rich and colourful history of the steelband movement in Trinidad and Tobago is interwoven with the Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars. Developed between the First & Second World Wars, the steelband was born of an innate and explosive creativity.
The band’s roots go deep and its turbulent early beginnings and explosive creativity is the hallmark of steelband music today.
“Hell Yard Boys” was the name they gave themselves back in 1935. Hell Yard was a poor area on the banks of the East Dry River in Port of Spain. The movement away from “tamboo-bamboo” to pan had only just begun. This name changed several times – to “Second Fiddle”, then to “Cross of Lorraine”, and finally “All Stars”, chosen because of the perceived superior ability of the players. Soon after the war, “Trinidad” was added.
In 1982 the contributions of Trinidad All Stars to the steelband movement were recognised by the Government of Trinidad & Tobago with the presentation of a national award – the Humming Bird Medal (Gold). Four years later, the band was again honoured with an award from the Port of Spain City Council.
One of the many achievements of the band was its pioneering of classical music on the road, played to the rhythm of calypso. This highlighted the capacity of the steelpan to go beyond the previously self-imposed musical bounds of calypso or boleros. Trinidad All Stars was the first band to play the pan with two sticks. For the first time, both the melody and the harmony could be heard played together. The band made the first “Quatro Pans” later called the grundig and the guitar pans. A former captain of Trinidad All Stars, Neville Jules, also had the privilege of making the first bass pan.
Our accomplished musicians have maintained a standard of excellence through their innovative mastery of the instruments. They have secured first place victories in the biennial Music Festival on six occasions, have won the National Panorama five times, the Bomb Competition on countless occasions and successfully held nine Classical Jewels concerts.
The members of Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra have carried the vibrant culture of Trinidad & Tobago around the world: Australia, Barbados, Bermuda, Canada, China, France, Ghana, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, Scotland, St. Maarten, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The logo of the Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars, launched in 2006 is a representation of the many facets of the Institution.
- Black Background – the black background
represents the rich fertile earth from which the Trinidad All Stars was
- One Gold Star – one Gold Star represents the fact that many
individual stars come together to form one great Star; its juxtaposition
against the black background forms the image of notes on a pan
symbolizing the inseparability of pan and All Stars; All Stars is pan,
pan is All Stars
- Dancing sailor – the sailor is a tribute to the sailor heritage of
All Stars. Note that the sailor is dancing to the music of the band
- Musical banner – the musical banner being waved by the sailor and
wrapped around the star, is filled with musical notes, symbolizing the
rich musicality of the band in everything it does
- Spotlight – the spotlight under the sailor symbolizes the showmanship of All Stars; whenever All Stars plays, they play in the spotlight
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|Trinidad All Stars
was formed on Charlotte Street, Port-of-Spain, in 1935 as "Bad
Behavior" with a group of panmen that included "Big Head" Hamill
and Rudolph "Fish Eye" Olliviere, the band's first leader. In
the early-1940s, the name of the band was changed three times,
first to "The Hell Yard Boys," then "Second Fiddle," after the
1939 American movie of the same name starring Tyrone Power; and
finally "Cross of Lorraine," after the 1943 American movie "The
Cross of Lorraine," starring Gene Kelly. In the mid-1940s, the
leadership of the band changed successively from Olliviere to
Neville Jules and then to Prince Batson. During this time,
the name of the band was changed to "All Stars." In 1948, Jules
resumed the leadership and the band's name was modified to
"Trinidad All Stars." In addition to being the band's leader,
Jules was also tuner and musical arranger, positions he held
until the early-1970s when he migrated to the USA.
Under Jules' leadership in the 1950s, All Stars began the tradition of interpreting a piece of classical music in calypso tempo and withholding it from the public's ear until the break of dawn on the first day of Carnival. The musical selection was referred to as "The Bomb" and, with the passage of time, other steelbands followed suit. Beginning in the 1950s, the All Stars panyard was located on Charlotte Street near Duke Street on the floor above the Maple Leaf Club; this floor was commonly referred to as the "garrot." All Stars received the sponsorship of Catelli Trinidad Ltd during the 1960s, but later switched to the Neal & Massy Company in 1988. In addition to winning the Steelband Music Festival six times, the band won the Panorama competition eight times, with musical arrangers Rudy Wells, Leon Edwards, and Eddy Quarless all contributing to the band's success. In 1982, All Stars received the Trinidad & Tobago Humming Bird Medal Gold for music. In 2014, All Stars became only the second steelband to cop the Large Band of The Year prize with its portrayal of "Sailors Ashore at A Tropical Fiesta." All Stars finished among the top three steelbands in the following significant competition:
|Compiled by Ronald C. Emrit|