A When Steel Talks
Desperadoes Win This
Bradley prevails in
Pan In the
was generally considered a toss-up, Desperadoes Steel Orchestra took
first place in the April 16 Saturday evening competition, while Panorama winners
Phase II Pan Groove had to settle for second position. The
difference was a mere three points, with Desperadoes amassing 288 to
Phase II's 285. Sound Specialists of Laventille were in third place
with 278 points.
of the steelpan art form got two shows for the price of one when the
organizers, Pan Trinbago, decided to combine both Pan Down Memory Lane,
which featured twelve Single Pan Bands, and the Pan In The 21st
Century event in which thirteen bands with a minimum of forty, and
maximum of fifty musicians performed. Extremely poor ticket sales for the Friday night
Single Pan show reportedly led to this decision. Ultimately
the winners were the pan music connoisseurs who graced the Grand Stand
at about seventy-five percent capacity, for the double pan-concert.
Pan Down Memory
Lane La Horquetta Pan Groove with Duvonne Stewart's arrangement of
J. C. Lodge's Someone Loves You Honey took first place honors. World Wide
was in second position, and Ice Water Pan Ensemble (the single pan band
incarnation of conventional Merrytones Steel Orchestra) had to settle for third
place. The latter had been in the lead coming out of the preliminary phase. The show
got underway shortly before 7:00 PM, a bit later than the advertised
6:00 PM start.
exclusive follow-up with Clive Bradley, arranger for Desperadoes, the
ace musician told
When Steel Talks
that "in all my experience, I was
never called upon to do that type of work, changing tempos and stuff. The selection (the version I worked from) was made for that type of
thing. In the [John Legend] video, the guy is playing a piano, and there
is a bass and a drum as well, and the guy is singing his ass off. And
there are only three chords in the whole tune, but the way he [John
Legend] put the chords together, it suited my liking. It was the first
time I had done that type of work, and everybody seemed to be enthused. The band did a good job."
Asked about the choice of song, Bradley said "I
was in a taxi one night, and I heard it." It is clear that Bradley likes
to do his own work, and not use already existing arrangements as a
base. "I did that tune because it was simple, and it had little or no
orchestration. It gave me the bare minimum which is what I like to work
said that he started working on the
piece two weeks before Christmas 2004, and finished it on New Year's
Eve. In the weeks after the national Panorama competition, the
focus turned toward working with Desperadoes on the music, making
adjustments as necessary.
Michael Jackson's Billie Jean, second place winners Phase
II players took the stage emulating the Gloved One with gloves of their
own, and put on a show to remember. The result was terrific - with
awesome visual as well as audio impact. It is safe to say
that Phase II and Desperadoes were among the crowd favorites for the
evening. After each performance, the roars of approval for
these two legendary bands were among the loudest heard. Leader and
arranger Len "Boogsie" Sharpe wove his magic wands, or in his case, pan
sticks, and the spell was completed by the band's fabulous delivery.
with When Steel Talks
www.Panonthenet.com) in yet another exclusive,
Boogsie said that "he was very happy for Bradley and Desperadoes."
The two arrangers are part of Trinidad's steelpan history and have
always had respect for each other's work. Phase II took the stage
with the full compliment allowed - fifty musicians. Boogsie
acknowledged that Phase II could have fielded more than fifty players,
had the rules allowed, such was the level of enthusiasm. The
arranger said that the "vibes were just great" and that the "players
really enjoyed the tune;" they had expressed preference for the Michael
Jackson song, and he just went with it.
But perhaps the greatest
triumph of the evening belonged to Sound Specialists of Laventille who
performed the Spyro Gyra classic Morning Dance arranged for the
band by Cary Codrington (leader of Trinidad's first family of pan, The
Pan Family). It was Sound Specialists' highest placing to date in
the competition. Codrington said that the band was happy coming in third place,
as they were in seventh position going into the finals.
Pan In The 21st Century competition, Sound Specialists placed
seventh overall, and back in 2003, they missed the finals by one point,
beaten into thirteenth place; they had needed to come in the top twelve to
secure a place in the finals. This rise from year to year by the
steel orchestra is one that the musicians and Codrington, who has been
arranging for the band for the last three years, are justifiably proud
The arranger shared with
When Steel Talks
exclusively, what he
thought worked for the steel orchestra, as they drew a playing position
of number four, taking the stage immediately after Trinidad All Stars - in his own words "I thought
that it would have been a good chance for us to create an impact,
because All Stars is one of the top bands; so - coming after them, if we
could out-perform All Stars then we would be among the first three
bands. So I guess it worked for us."
has a large number of young musicians who account for about eighty
percent of their membership, according to Codrington.
Dance was his choice, as he wanted to do "a big song that would
compete with the top bands, you know, Desperadoes, Exodus, Phase II, All
Stars, to create that sort of impact we were looking for" as he put it.
He went on to say that the members loved the selection, especially the
solos, for the bass, cello and guitars, "they were rearing to go"
Codrington laughingly said. The steel orchestra took the stage
with forty-seven musicians.
Codrington also extended his thanks to the Laventille community for the
support they gave the steel orchestra, his family including his wife and
children, and the Sound Specialists players and band management for the
hard work they put in, especially during the final week.
year, another great pan show has gone into the history books. It
is said that the producers of the 2005 Panorama CDs, Trinidad's Kenny
Phillips and WACK FM, recorded the night's performances, and that
CD(s) are expected out.
When Steel Talks
will keep you abreast as
to if and when they become commercially available.
by C. Phillips, Basement
©2005 When Steel Talks - All Rights Reserved
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